Oregon State offense flails in the wind as Beavers let one slip away to Washington in a 24-21 loss

Blame the wind at Husky Stadium? Sure, it was a factor in slowing down Oregon State’s offense.

But blame the No. 23 Beavers, too. It wasn’t electric, it leaned too much on the run, it offered nothing through the air.

The result was 262 yards of offense in Friday night’s 24-21 loss to Washington.

“It was bad football,” OSU center Jake Levengood said. “You can have 10 guys doing the right thing, but one guy messing up … it’s huge.”

The swirling winds, sometimes gusting to 30 mph, were tricky to navigate. But Washington (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) made it work after a slow start. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. completed 30 of 52 passes for 298 yards and a touchdown.

Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said wind would pick up and regress, and it was tough to time it when the play called for a shot down the field.

“(Penix) was able to make some throws in the wind. We’ve got to be able to do that, too,” Smith said.

Oregon State (6-3, 3-3) accomplished next to nothing through the air. Quarterback Ben Gulbranson completed 12 of 19 passes for 87 yards, 21 coming on the game’s final play. OSU’s leading receiver was Tre’Shaun Harrison, who caught five passes for 15 yards.

It wasn’t nearly enough to complement a running game that was good at times, though predictable as the game aged due to the lack of a passing game.

“In the passing game, we’ve got to get more. We’ve got to score more than 14 points. That’s tough to win in this league,” Smith said.

The defense didn’t have one of its better games, either. There was a pick-six by linebacker Easton Mascarenas-Arnold 70 seconds before halftime that gave Oregon State a 14-7 lead. The Beavers held Penix, the national leader in passing yardage, to his lowest completion percentage (57.6%) of the season.

Too often, though, Penix found a way in obvious passing situations. During the Huskies’ first scoring drive, Penix converted plays of third and 16, third and 11, and fourth and 10.

The Huskies’ game-winning drive was a master class. Washington, starting at its 3 and playing into the wind, converted three third downs and drove 92 yards before Peyton Henry booted the game-winning, 22-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining.

Penix had entirely too much time to throw. Though he was hurried on occasion, the Beavers never sacked Penix.

“They had a good offense, good O-line, the quarterback. It was going to be a challenge. We battled, but ultimately, they got the best of us,” said inside linebacker Omar Speights, who led OSU with nine tackles.

Despite the offensive missteps and allowing Penix to take over at times, the Beavers return to Corvallis knowing they let one slip away during the first half.

Oregon State led 7-0, and twice had chances to add to the lead after getting inside the red zone.

Late in the first quarter, the Beavers were inside Washington’s 10, only to get turned away on fourth and 1 when Jack Colletto was stopped. Early in the second quarter, the Beavers failed on a gamble to convert a fourth and 3 from the UW 15.

“You’ve got to execute down in the red zone. You’ve got to finish those drives because that’s what wins us games,” Levengood said.

The most curious decision of the two was the fourth-and-3 call. Smith opted to keep the offense on the field rather than turn to Everett Hayes, back after a three-game absence, and attempt a 32-yard field goal. In this situation, the wind was at Oregon State’s back.

“We’re going to err on aggression down there. Even more aggression with the way the wind was going. There’s no guarantee that thing is going through the uprights,” Smith said.

For Oregon State, the loss ends any hope of reaching the Pac-12 championship game. The Beavers now have no room for error in trying to achieve a 10-win season. But the season is far from over. OSU plays two of its final three at home, where the Beavers have been hard to beat, in addition to a game at Arizona State and a bowl.

“Lot of football left,” Speights said. “Just have to finish the season strong.”

— Nick Daschel reported from Seattle.

ndaschel@oregonian.com | @nickdaschel

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