Hail to the victors' kicker.
CORVALLIS - What's a two-touchdown deficit when you still had to look forward to a couple of fumbled kick returns, a couple of misfires on long snaps and an in-your-face hailstorm?
Less than eight minutes into Saturday's weather-pounded football game, Boise State had Oregon State down.
But not out.
Trailing the Broncos 14-0 midway through the first quarter, the Beavers did a slow and steady comeback, completing the recovery project with an Alexis Serna's 29-yard field goal with a minute to play that nudged OSU all the way back 30-27 before a Reser Stadium record crowd of 42,876.
The Beavers will take a 2-0 record to 12th-ranked Louisville next Saturday.
"We beat a good team, and this was a big hurdle," OSU coach Mike Riley said. "We had every bit of adversity, a lot of created by ourselves. It's great to be 2-0, but it just gets harder."
Oregon State outscored Boise State 30-13 after that initial deficit, taking their first lead on Serna's field goal, held the high-powered Bronco offense to just 111 yards in the second half and purged the 53-34 loss the Beavers endured last year.
"It was huge to comeback from that situation," said Mike Hass, the business-like split end whose fourth-quarter touchdown evened the score at 27. "It showed how much character this team has."
Hass, who set a Pac-10 Conference record in last year's loss at Boise State with 293 yards receiving, had 11 receptions for 178 yards. In three career games against the Broncos, Hass has 24 catches for 512 yards and four touchdowns.
"Last year's game wasn't much fun," he said, "but this one, this one was a lot of fun." Almost too much fun. Hass was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct - for his victory dance in the end zone after the touchdown catch. "I deserved it," Hass said.
Just like the Beavers earned it.
"We were down 14 points in our stadium," said Matt Moore, the junior quarterback who completed 27-of-38 passes for 279 yards and that 22-yard scoring strike to Hass.
"A lot of guys were frustrated, but they did not show it on the field. Those were the cards we were dealt. We made the best of it."
How confident was Boise State, which fell to 0-2 and has lost three straight games for the first time in eight years?
On its third possession of the game, the Broncos drove to the OSU 25-yard line, but on a fourth-and-five play, rather than kick a field goal, quarterback Jared Zabransky turned to his arm. It failed him.
Oregon State strong safety Sabby Piscitelli knocked away the pass intended for Cole Clasen, the former OSU slotback who transferred to Boise State.
Seemingly on the run, the Beavers turned to the run, using Yvenson Bernard's chugging legs. He rushed for 92 yards, nine more than OSU would have at the end.
But 51 of Bernard's yards came on a second-quarter rip through Boise State's defense for a touchdown to break the ice - just minutes before the dark, rain-soaked sky over Reser opened up with hail that seemed to bleach the green artificial turf.
Boise State answered with a 33-yard field goal by Anthony Montgomery before the Beavers drove 80 yards in five plays - fueled by a Moore-to-Hass pass for 47 yards - and scored on Bernard's five-yard run.
The half ended with Boise State in front but not by much, 17-14.
Oregon State was back in the Bronco hunt and then the Beavers fumbled the second-half kickoff. "And right after I had given this fired-up speech at halftime," said Mike Riley, the OSU coach "Then we blow it."
Zabransky, whose meltdown at Georgia a week earlier had led to Boise State's 48-13 bashing, turned Nate Wright's fumbled kick return into a 24-14 Bronco lead when he capped a 31-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Jerard Rabb.
It was then Boise State's turn to make the mistake. The Beavers' Victor Butler blocked a Kyle Stringer punt at the BSU 25-yard line, and OSU's Serna made it 24-17 with a 40-yard field goal with less than six minutes left in the third quarter.
Zabransky was the next victim, losing the handle on the center snap. OSU's Alvin Smith recovered, his second of the game, at the Boise State 40.
The Beavers closed to within 24-20 after Serna's 32-yard field goal.
The Beavers pieced together another 12-play push, this one for 48 yards and 4 1/2 minutes that resulted in Serna's third field goal of the game. The game-winner.
"I was a little nervous," Serna said. So was Riley, but not about Serna. "I was thinking about the snap," he said.
Oregon State's Alexis Serna (center) celebrates his 29-yard field goal with just over a minute left in Saturday's 30-27 comeback win over Boise State. C o l l e g e f o o t b a l l Collin Andrew / The Register-Guard Boise's State's Jared Zabransky is sacked by Oregon State's Joe Rudulph in the second quarter Saturday at Reser Stadium.
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|Title Annotation:||Sports; Neither a two-touchdown deficit nor a first-half hailstorm could keep the Beavers from their appointed comeback win|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Sep 11, 2005|
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