Beavers ride Rodgers' 186 yards to stunner over No. 1 Trojans
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- It had been 41 years since Oregon State knocked off a No. 1 team.
Freshman Jacquizz Rodgers helped the Beavers pull off another stunner -- and Southern California was the victim again.
Rodgers ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns, and Oregon State built a 21-point first-half lead before capitalizing on a late turnover and upsetting the Trojans 27-21 on Thursday night.
Beavers fans, clad in orange, rushed the field when the clock ran out after the 25-point underdogs shook up college football with a victory over the team that was expected to roll right through its conference straight to the national championship game.
"I think we made a statement, like we can come out and beat anybody on any given day. It's not always the best team that wins on a day. It's who plays hard," Rodgers said.
The Beavers (2-2, 1-1 Pacific-10) also upset USC at Reser Stadium in 2006, when the Trojans were ranked third. The team's lone victory over a No. 1 team came in 1967, when Oregon State beat the O.J. Simpson-led Trojans 3-0.
USC quarterback Mark Sanchez's pass was intercepted by safety Greg Laybourn on the 30 with less than 3 minutes to play. Laybourn ran the ball back 28 yards to put Oregon State on the 2, and Rodgers ran in the final 2 yards to make it 27-14.
Fans carried Laybourn on their shoulders after the game.
Sanchez hit Patrick Turner with a 14-yard scoring pass with 1:19 left, but time ran out on the Trojans (2-1, 0-1).
"I'm beside myself," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "They didn't hide what they were doing, they just did it. We couldn't stop it. We couldn't tackle."
Rodgers' rushing yards were the most by a Trojans opponent since Vince Young ran for 200 for Texas in the BCS national championship game in 2006.
Rodgers' brother James had six catches for 36 yards and two scores for Oregon State. Lyle Moevao completed 18 of 26 passes for 167 yards and two scores.
"They came out and competed," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said of his team. "We were respectful, but not in awe."
USC tailback Joe McKnight rushed for just 10 yards against the Beavers, after gaining 105 yards in the Trojans' 35-3 victory over Ohio State.
Sanchez completed 18 of 29 passes for 227 yards and three scores, with the one crucial interception.
"Not our sharpest tonight -- everybody, every position. There's no need to point fingers," Sanchez said. "I'm as guilty as anyone else. I threw an interception -- costly late in the game."
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McKnight took the loss upon himself.
"I didn't make the plays. Fumbled the ball, Dropped a pass," he said. "You can't blame anybody else but me."
The game opened with drama, as USC safety Taylor Mays was called for a personal foul on James Rodgers on an 8-yard touchdown reception.
Carroll asked that the score be reviewed, because it did not look as if the ball had crossed the line. The touchdown stood, giving the Beavers a 7-0 lead.
The Beavers more than held their own through the first half, with the Trojans appearing confused about how to handle Jacquizz Rodgers, who is just 5-foot-7 and 185 pounds. He somehow pushed through USC's defensive line for a 2-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0.
His big brother saw the end zone again before halftime. Moevao's pass was nearly intercepted by USC cornerback Kevin Thomas, but the ball was tipped into the hands of James Rodgers to make it 21-0.
USC answered on its first series of the second half with Sanchez's 26-yard scoring pass to Ronald Johnson.
Sanchez found wide-open receiver Damien Williams, who sprinted down the sideline -- and narrowly avoided Laybourn's efforts to push him out of bounds -- to narrow it to 21-14 with 2:56 left in the third quarter.
The Beavers squandered a chance to add to the lead midway through the fourth when they tried for a field goal, but Sean Sehnem's 41-yard attempt was blocked.
The Beavers opened this season with two losses, at Stanford and Penn State, before returning home for a victory over Hawaii.
Despite their struggles, the Beavers had seen steady growth on offense and the emergence of Jacquizz Rodgers, who went into the game against the Trojans as the nation's leading freshman rusher with 87.7 yards per game.
"For whatever reason we just couldn't tackle him," Carroll said. "We'd hit him in the backfield and he'd keep bouncing. Him hiding behind the line of scrimmage was very effective. We had troubles with it all day."
USC had shown little vulnerability in victories at Virginia and then at home against then-No. 5 Buckeyes. But Carroll noted earlier in the week that the familiarity of Pac-10 play posed a danger.
The Beavers certainly seemed to have the Trojans figured out, holding them to 313 yards total offense. Stafon Johnson was USC's leading rusher with 48 yards. Williams had six catches for 94 yards.
"The reality of the Pac-10 is obvious," Carroll said after the game.
USC was without cornerback Shareece Wright, who will miss several games due to a hairline vertebra fracture suffered in the Ohio State game.
Carroll had said Wright was being disciplined after being charged with felony resisting a police officer earlier this month, but would have played against Oregon State had he been cleared medically.
USC has lost three of its last four games in Corvallis.
2022 Pac-12 Conference Standings