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Backup Vaz falls short in rally after Mannion intercepted four times
Sean Mannion flamed out in his return after a three-week layoff, which prompted Oregon State coach Mike Riley to turn to backup quarterback...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sean Mannion flamed out in his return after a three-week layoff, which prompted Oregon State coach Mike Riley to turn to backup quarterback Cody Vaz.
After an ineffective second-half performance and a horribly thrown pass that resulted in Mannion's fourth interception, Riley made the fourth-quarter switch for Vaz.
"It was one of those things where I thought it would be good for our team," Riley said after a 20-17 defeat. "Cody made some good plays, almost a couple there at the end."
Trailing by seven midway through the final quarter, Vaz led Oregon State to a touchdown on his first drive to tie the score.
Washington answered with a late field goal, which left the seventh-ranked Beavers and Vaz with only 71 seconds to provide a miracle comeback.
As good as he was on his first series, Vaz couldn't find targets in the Washington secondary. He misfired on his final two attempts, his last pass sailing high and wide, which sealed Oregon State's first loss of the season.
Goodbye, six-game winning streak.
So long, national-championship aspirations.
And say hello to a boatload of second-guessing from OSU fans.
Why did Mannion start in place of Vaz, who was 2-0 as a starter?
Why hasn't Oregon State found a kicker who can make a 30-yard field goal?
What was going on with the dropped passes?
And what happened to the Beavers' good fortune, which had as much to do with OSU's historic start as anything?
"It was definitely a weird game," senior cornerback Jordan Poyer said. "But it's the game of football. The ball is going to bounce in some weird ways. What matters is who gets the win at the end of the game."
The Beavers (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) had been so good this season in tight contests, winning three games by three points or fewer.
They trailed for the first time this season at halftime and were down 10-0 at the break largely because receivers dropped at least five passes.
Everything seemed to turn around in the third quarter when running back Storm Woods and Mannion revived a dormant offense that had just 110 yards at halftime.
Woods ran for 41 yards in the third quarter while Mannion connected with Brandin Cooks for a 54-yard touchdown pass.
Trevor Romaine tied the score at 10 on a 29-yard field goal, but the Beavers never took the lead.
Mannion threw two interceptions and his last pick gave UW the ball at the OSU 30 to set up a touchdown.
That's when Mannion got the hook after going 18 for 34 for 221 yards.
And that's when Vaz got the call.
He was brilliant on the his first drive, connecting on 4 of 5 passes, including a 29-yard touchdown strike to H-back Conner Hamlett.
However, Washington answered with a field goal and Vaz had 1:11 left.
Given their unreliability at kicker — the Beavers hadn't attempted a field goal longer than 30 yards since Week 1 — OSU needed to work quickly to drive deep into UW territory for a surefire field goal or touchdown.
Vaz passed for 10 yards on the first throw and 16 on the second before things began to go horribly wrong.
He misfired on the next two attempts before taking a critical sack, which set up a fourth-and-19 play at the OSU 47 with 25 seconds left.
Vaz had time to scan the field on the play and spotted Kevin Cummings flashing across the middle. His pass sailed high and out of reach of Cummings, who had a UW defender draped over his back.
"Our defense played great," said Cooks, who finished with nine receptions and 123 yards. "We just made too many mistakes as an offense."
When asked who would start at quarterback this week against Arizona State, Riley said he didn't want to answer the question.