Friday Night Lights: No. 19 Oregon State wins a resolute victory against No. 10 Utah

Wide Receiver Silas Bolden (#7) flexes at midfield in a 21-7 victory against the Utah Utes on Friday, September 29, 2023.
Wide Receiver Silas Bolden (#7) flexes at midfield in a 21-7 victory against the Utah Utes on Friday, September 29, 2023.
Sam Misa

No. 19 Oregon State Beavers upset No. 10 Utah Utes  21-7 in Corvallis, Oregon on Friday night.

The Oregon State Beavers faced their toughest tests of the season so far, in the Utah Utes touting one of the best defenses in all of division one football, ranked No. 10 in the nation in total defense going into the contest. 

The Beavers relied on their depth at running back led by sophomore Damien Martinez. While Friday’s performance was Martinez’s least productive game in terms of yardage, running for 65 yards on 16 carries (avg. 4.1 Yards per carry) against the Utes, Damien still found the endzone. 

Scoring on the first offensive drive for the Beavers, Martinez capped an 11-play drive with a four-yard rushing touchdown with 5:46 in the first quarter. 

Before Friday’s game the Utah Utes had the 3rd best run defense in the country only allowing 2.2 Yards per carry. 

Freshman quarterback Aidan Chiles entered the game on the Beavers’ third offensive drive with 14:49 in the 2nd Quarter. Breakdowns in protection would cost the Beavers on this drive as the Utes tackled Chiles for a loss on his first three plays on the field. 

Two consecutive Utah sacks on second and third down would lead to a fourth and eight punt by redshirt senior Josh Green. 

Silas Bolden’s versatility ended up making all the difference down the stretch as the junior receiver led all OSU receivers with 100 yards and one receiving touchdown on a 27-yard pass by junior quarterback DJ Uiagalelei to bring the game to 14-0 with 10:43 to go in the third quarter. 

Bolden used his speed and agility to create an additional 53 yards rushing. Ultimately he ran for a touchdown on the night. Bolden’s score pushed the game to 21-0 on a 45-yard score on fourth and one with 13:50 left in the third quarter. 

The Utah Utes have been dealing with the injury bug all season with key contributors senior quarterback Cameron Rising and senior tight-end Brant Kuithe not featured against the Beavers. 

Leading the offense for the Utes, was freshman quarterback Nate Johnson. Johnson finished the night with 101 yards on eight of 23 attempts completed. 

Johnson’s 34% passing completion percentage is due in large part to the steady and aggressive defense of the Beavers. OSU had success stopping the run on early downs forcing Johnson into difficult third downs. The Utes were only able to convert on two of their 13 third-down situations and only went one for four on fourth down. 

The Beaver’s defensive intensity led to Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham exchanging Nate Johnson for junior quarterback Bryson Barnes, as Johnson had to exit the game with a leg injury. 

His first drive ended in an interception by junior Beaver linebacker Easton Mascarenes-Arnold. 

Barnes left the game with an injury during his second drive with 13:50 left in the fourth quarter after a hit by linebacker Calvin Hart Jr. that was deemed a targeting penalty by officials. This penalty forces Hart Jr. to remain on the sidelines for the first half of the next game.

The Oregon State Beavers were able to convincingly control the pace of the game with a patient relentlessness. 

“We’ve got to have that confidence, that ability to take it one play at a time. And be able to sustain long drives,” Uiagalelei said.

Oregon State will look to carry that confidence into their next game against the University of California, Berkeley Golden Bears on Saturday, October 7 at 7 p.m. at California Memorial Stadium in Berkley.

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