Gutsy last-second call propels Smith, Beavers to victory over Bulldogs

Senior%2C+Jack+Colletto%2C+runs+it+in+for+a+touchdown+against+Boise+State+on+Sep+3+inside+of+Reser+Stadium.+Colletto+scored+the+game-winning+touchdown+in+the+Beavers+game+against+Fresno+State

Jason May, OMN Photographer

Senior, Jack Colletto, runs it in for a touchdown against Boise State on Sep 3 inside of Reser Stadium. Colletto scored the game-winning touchdown in the Beavers game against Fresno State

Haley Stark, Sports Contributor

A thrilling finale at Valley Children’s Stadium propels the Oregon State Beavers to their first-ever win against the Fresno State Bulldogs.

Coach Jonathan Smith was faced with a difficult decision in the final moments of the game, forced to choose between the safe route of kicking a game-tying field goal or running a play for the win. After Fresno State’s attempt to ice kicker Everett Hayes, Smith decided to face the Bulldogs head-on. 

Smith’s stone-cold call turned out to be the correct one. With only three seconds on the clock, inside linebacker Jack Colletto’s two-yard run pushed OSU forward to a 35-32 victory. 

The electric final play of the game marks the beginning of an encouraging season for the team, ringing in their first 2-0 start since 2014.

The Beavers and Bulldogs began the game modestly, both going three-and-out on their initial possessions. Despite a self-recovered fumble and difficulties converting first downs, Oregon State was the first to strike with a two-yard run from Colletto.

Fresno State answered Oregon State on their next possession. After a string of connections to receivers Zane Pope and Jalen Moreno-Cropper, Quarterback Jake Haener’s 42-yard pass to running back Jordan Mims tied the game at 7-7.

Both teams failed to convert on their next possessions, with Oregon State punting after five plays and Fresno State kicker Abraham Montano missing a 34-yard field goal.

The Beavers put together a four-play, 1:49 scoring drive early into the second quarter. The drive included a series of impressive rushes from running backs Deshaun Fenwick and Damien Martinez, capped off with a 36-yard scoring run by wide receiver Silas Bolden. With a successful kick from Hayes, the score favored OSU at 14-7.

The Bulldog’s subsequent two possessions resulted in field goals for the team, while the Beavers failed to gain any yardage over their last attempts before the half. The score was a tight 14-13 when the halftime whistle blew.

Having deferred at the beginning of the game, Fresno State started on offense in the second half. After a series of Haener passes and handoffs to Mims, the Bulldogs QB was unable to make a connection within the red zone. Montano made a 43-yard field goal, putting the score at 14-16.  

The start of Oregon State’s second half wasn’t ideal. Fenwick ran for 16 yards and receiver Tre’Shaun Harrison caught a nine yard pass, but Luke Loecher punted for 52 yards for a touchback shortly after.

Fresno State put up their next touchdown in only 1:21. Haener’s 60-yard bomb to wide receiver Josh Kelly was the highlight of this short scoring drive. Mims ran in for an 11-yard touchdown, growing Fresno’s lead to 14-23.

Oregon State fired back with their own touchdown in under two minutes. On the first play of the drive, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Anthony Gould caught a pass for 42 yards. Rushes from running back Jam Griffin and Fenwick lowered Fresno’s lead to two points.

The score remained at 21-23 through the end of the third quarter after punts from both sides. OSU defensive back Kitan Oladapo’s 12-yard sack was a highlight of this exchange. 

With their first possession of the fourth quarter, Fresno State was able to convert a field goal to expand their lead. Two passes to wide receiver Nikko Remigio for a total of 43 yards helped put the Bulldogs into a scoring position and brought the score to 21-26.

Plays from tight end Luke Musgrave and receiver Jesiah Irish helped march the Beavers down the field, but a sequence of incomplete passes hindered further progress. After a failed pass attempt on 4th and 7, the Bulldogs recovered the ball on their own 48. 

A solid showing from Oregon State’s defense shut down Fresno’s momentum. Due to a series of incomplete passes and penalties on both sides, Fresno State was forced to go for a 52-yard field goal. Montano missed the kick and opened the opportunity for a Beaver comeback.

Nolan’s 30-yard pass to Musgrave, Fenwick’s rushes, and a completion to Tre’Shaun Harrison secured the team a 1-point lead with 1:50 left in the game. Nolan’s two-point conversion connected with Bolden and brought the score to 29-26.

Despite the time constraint, Fresno State was able to advance the ball with ease and scored a touchdown in only 45 seconds. Huge passes like a 23-yarder to Remigio and Moreno-Cropper’s 45-yard completion were vital in gaining a 29-32 lead.

With only 58 seconds remaining and pressure mounting on his back, Nolan came. 116 of his 219 yards and his only touchdown converted in the fourth quarter. Key throws to Harrison, Irish, and Musgrave set the Beavers up to score in the final three seconds of the game. 

After some flirtation with kicking a tying field goal, Coach Smith decided to take the ballsy route. Colletto was brought in at the quarterback position and ran the deciding play of the game. His two-yard touchdown, mirroring the rush he had earlier in the game, brought a sigh of relief and wave of a ecstasy to the team as they celebrated their victory.

The Beavers will look to continue their win streak at Reser Stadium next Saturday, where they’ll face off against the 2-0 Montana State Bobcats at 5:00pm.