David slew Goliath here Saturday, but he didn't use a slingshot this time. No, this time, the weapon in the classic little guy-big guy confrontation was something called "Fake 35 Blunt Double Slant."
Indeed, that was the name of the play that the underdog Beavers of Oregon State used to perfection in their stunning 18-17 victory here Saturday over the big Bruins of UCLA. It was a two-point conversion after an Oregon State touchdown with 3 minutes 27 seconds to play, and its very name (and memory) may be enough to cause nightmares in Westwood for years.
Oregon State sent wide receivers Reggie Hubbard and Jason Kent wide left, then sent both of them slanting toward the middle of UCLA's defensive backfield. At the same time, running back Reggie Pitchford swung to his left out of the backfield, into the area Oregon State had hoped to clear out with the movement of Hubbard and Kent. And clear out it did. There were UCLA fans in the stands closer to Pitchford than any Bruin defensive backs.
"When I saw him there, I just lobbed it," said Matt Booher, Oregon State quarterback.
And as the ball settled gently into the hands of Pitchford, the nightmare that was UCLA's and Coach Terry Donahue's became an Oregon State dream.
"This is the biggest win for our team since I've been here," said Dave Kragthorpe, in his fifth season as the Beavers' coach.
"We beat a team today that has prestige and national image. Just the mention of the name UCLA--like the mention of USC, Oklahoma, Nebraska--brings that recognition factor. Those teams have just been there so many times before. So when you beat them, it has to be a boost for your confidence and a big boost for your program.
"It has to do with image, reputation and history. Heck, they've got running backs who didn't even get into the game today that I'd love to have on my team."
For Oregon State, the significance of Saturday's victory probably cannot be overstated, especially since there appeared to be few or no fluky elements to the win. The Beavers went ahead, held on for a while, relinquished the lead to the Bruins, 17-10, and then went 67 yards in 10 plays in a winning drive that consumed 4:20.
That significance can be measured in numbers: The victory marked the first time in seven years that Oregon State has beaten UCLA and finally put the Beavers in doubles figures in wins in the series with the Bruins after 42 games. The record stands at 10-28-4.
Or it can be measured in fan reaction: Afterward, the fans tore down the goal posts on the north end and carried them off.
"It's OK," Kragthorpe said. "We've got another set left."
Nor, certainly, did the Oregon State players take this lightly.
"There is just no greater feeling in competitive sports than something like this," Booher aid. "In a few days, this is going to really sink in."
Booher hinted that this game in general, and Oregon State's final drive in particular, could very well be the kind of thing pointed to and discussed for years as a turning point in the school's football program.
"We've heard for years here about how Oregon State is the kind of program that will hang tough for a while but not quite know how to win," Booher said. "It's always been kind of, well, the Beavers gave the other guys a good game and that's all anybody expected them to do.
"But today, for no particular rhyme or reason, we got some confidence on that last drive. It was like a slap in the face for all of us out there on the field. Kind of like, hey, we can win. It was not enough today to just be close and have everybody patting us on the back afterward for a good try. No, today, it was there, the feeling that we could win."
And so they did, chopping down the Goliaths of Westwood. And doing it right here in logging country.
One of the more interesting matchups Saturday was UCLA's Frank Cornish, center, against Oregon State's Esara Tavai Tuaolo, middle guard. Tuaolo, a junior from Chino and Don Lugo High School, made a name for himself with a great game against Nebraska's Jake Young, an All-American center. In that game, Tuaolo had nine unassisted tackles, three assists and four tackles for losses. At the beginning of the year, Cornish was also thought to be in Young's class. Against Cornish (and occasional replacement Aaron Gideon), Tuaolo had five unassisted tackles, three assists and one for a loss. So how do Young and Cornish compare? "Nebraska better, quicker, stronger," Tuaolo said. . . . The impressions of Pellom McDaniels, defensive end for Oregon State, on UCLA's much-maligned offensive line: "They are finesse players. They don't really drive off the ball, there aren't many power players there. They don't hit you, they try angle stuff." . . . After last Saturday's shocking loss to Arizona, Coach Terry Donahue apparently sought to convey a feeling of team unity this week by sending his entire team out for the coin flip.