INSIDE SLANT: TSX

MIKE RILEY

TO GO FOR IT or not, that was the question. In what is becoming the usual in that situation, Oregon State coach Mike Riley ordered an attempt at a two-point conversion in the second overtime with the Beavers trailing Washington, 35-34. The pass fell incomplete, the Huskies won, and halfway through the season, the Beavs are 3-3 overall, 2-1 Pac-10. The Sports Exchange delves into what it all means.

Should Riley have taken the gamble? He's played it that way before, most recently in the 2006 Sun Bowl, where a two-point conversion provided a 39-38 victory over Missouri. That came about, Riley said at the time, because he recalled a 2004 game at LSU when the Beavers, trailing by a point, decided to take the safe way and kick the extra point, only to see it miss in a 22-21 loss to the Tigers.

There will be second-guessing of Riley for the two-point try against the Huskies, but it made sense on many levels. The Oregon State defense was showing no signs of stopping Washington. On the first overtime series for the Huskies, they scored a touchdown in three plays. Ditto in the second overtime.

"They were pretty hot," Riley said. "We were having a hard time with them."

It was also the opportunity to have complete control, perhaps for the final time. In the next overtime, every conversion attempt would have been for two points, by rule. If it was a field goal, the Beavers have had some angst about Justin Kahut.

Riley knew the Beavers could end it then, and Washington could have no response. That might not be the case in the next overtime. And his defense was only going to continue to wear out.

So the Beavers called a pass play, and Ryan Katz fired to tight end Joe Halahuni in the back of the end zone. Halahuni had to dive for the throw, and couldn't hold it when he hit the ground. Game over.

"It looked like it was there," Riley said. "Did he ever have the ball in his hands?"

Momentarily, but there was no question it was a dropped pass, and a loss for Oregon State.

NOTES, QUOTES
--The Beavers are now 2-4 in overtime games. The loss to Washington in double overtime was the first extra session for OSU since a 2007 overtime win at Oregon.

--Jacquizz Rodgers is now 17th on the Pac-10 career rushing list with 3,314 yards, six behind Justin Forsett of Cal. His four receptions against Washington gives Rodgers 122 catches for his career, two fewer than Pat Chaffey's school record for receptions by a running back.

--OSU has forced four turnovers this season after the opponent has reached the red zone, or inside the 20-yard line.

GAME BALL GOES TO: RB Jacquizz Rodgers -- Rodgers rushed 32 times for 146 yards and three touchdowns and added four receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown. Two of his touchdowns were overtime scores.

KEEP AN EYE ON: Defensive tackle Brennan Olander -- While Stephen Paea gets the attention, it is Olander who continues to be the playmaker in the middle of the line. He was in on another seven tackles against Washington with three of them for lost yardage including a fourth-down stop.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We thought we could win the game, that's what told the story." -- OSU coach Mike Riley, on his decision to order an attempt at a two-point conversion in the second overtime, with the Beavers trailing 35-34.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: The kick and punt coverage teams. Despite less than stellar performances from Johnny Hekker on punts and Justin Kahut on kickoffs, the Beavers limited Washington to an average of 4.7 yards on four punt returns and 19 yards on four kickoff returns. That meant the average field position for Washington to start drives was its own 25-yard line.

STILL NEEDS WORK: OSU's offensive line struggled to find any consistency against Washington's defensive front, which hasn't exactly been dominant. While Jacquizz Rodgers finished with 140 net rushing yards on 32 carries, eight of his rushes either were held to no gain or lost yardage because he couldn't even get to the line of scrimmage before confronting a tackler. OSU quarterback Ryan Katz was also sacked three times for 24 yards in losses, and had to scramble away from trouble another half-dozen times. This is a line with four returning starters, but it's still not found its groove.

ROSTER REPORT:
--The second bye in OSU's schedule comes at an opportune time for the Beavers. Two offensive linemen, center Alex Linnenkohl and left tackle Michael Philipp, can use the time to let injured ankles heal. And another week might bring starting tight end Brady Camp back to the playing field after he missed two games with a sore back.

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