CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) - Oregon State coach Mike Riley shrugged when asked whether Saturday's overtime loss to Sacramento State was one of the worst of his career with the Beavers.
"I don't know," he said. "I don't feel like ranking them today."
The Beavers were stunned at home in their opener Saturday by the Big Sky's Hornets, who went for two points after a touchdown in OT for the final 29-28 edge. Oregon State had not lost a home opener since 2001.
The game-winning touchdown capped a crazy game that saw the Beavers fall behind early, then rally behind true freshman running back Malcolm Agnew to send the game to overtime.
Agnew, who emerged as the heir apparent to departed Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers, ran for 223 yards and three touchdowns. He is the first true freshman to start the position in Oregon State history. His rushing yards were the ninth-highest in a single game for Oregon State.
"I feel like I had a good game," said Agnew, son of 11-year NFL veteran Ray Agnew. "It just wasn't good enough. We didn't win."
With the game tied at 21 at the end of regulation, Agnew put the Beavers ahead with a 17-yeard touchdown run. But Sac State quarterback Jeff Fleming countered with a 4-yard scoring pass to Brandyn Reed and followed with the conversion to win it, sending all of the Hornets onto the field in celebration.
Sac State, which went 6-5 last season in the Big Sky, had never defeated a team from the upper division Pac-10, now the Pac-12 with the addition of Colorado and Utah this season. Last season the Hornets fell 52-17 in its opener against Stanford.
Fleming completed 22 of 35 passes for 257 yards and three scores for Sac State, which before Saturday was 0-10 against upper division opponents since 2002. Chase Daedder caught six passes for 61 yards and two scores.
"It means a lot," Reed said about the win. "We put in so much work, and we've been preaching it all spring and summer. There's so much determination and opportunities to take advantage of, and this was one of them."
Agnew's 4-yard scoring run with 8:08 left in regulation tied it. On the Hornets' ensuing drive, Oregon State's Sean Martin recovered a fumble that gave the ball back to the Beavers.
But the Hornets returned the favor on Oregon State's possession when free safety Joe Larche returned a fumble 58 yards to the Oregon State 28. Sac State got to the 11-yard line but Jason Diniz's flubbed field goal was blocked and the ball went back to the Beavers with just over two minutes left.
Oregon State marched downfield, but the drive ended when true freshman Kevin Romaine's 27-yard field goal hit the right upright to send the game into OT.
Because of injuries and attrition, the Beavers played seven true freshmen in the game, most ever since 1997, when they played seven true frosh for the entire season.
Romaine hit his first career field goal, a 29-yarder, in the first quarter to give the Beavers an early 3-0 lead. But the Hornets answered with a scoring drive that ended when Fleming hit Deadder with a 19-yeard scoring pass to make it 7-3.
Sacramento State extended the lead to 14-3 with 2:39 left in the first half when Fleming found Daedder in the end zone again with a 4-yard pass.
There were boos at Reser Stadium when the teams left the field for halftime.
Oregon quarterback Ryan Katz did not start the second half after completing 11 of 22 passes for 87 yards. He was intercepted once and sacked twice. He was replaced by redshirt freshman Sean Mannion.
Katz, who had surgery in the offseason after breaking a bone in his wrist in the season finale against rival Oregon, did not appear to be injured. He was standing on the sideline to start the second half with his helmet on.
Afterward, coach Riley said the switch was pre-planned.
"We were going to get him (Mannion) into the game at some point. We were going to do it in the second quarter, but we thought we better stay with Ryan Katz, try to get something going," Riley said.
Mannion completed 12 passes for 143 yards.
Romaine hit a 45-yard field goal to narrow it for the Beavers early in the third quarter. But the defense couldn't seem to figure out the Hornets and Sacramento State scored again on wide receiver Morris Norrise's 39-yard pass to Reed.
Agnew's 1-yard run made it 21-13 with 12:44 left in the game.
Riley ticked off the mistakes in the game and said it all snowballed.
"All those things, you start pressing, you get nervous. And that's what we did," he said.
The Beavers were hobbled going into the game. Most notable among the absences was senior flanker James Rodgers, known for his proficiency in pulling off Oregon State's trademark fly sweep, who is rehabbing from two knee surgeries.
Tight end Joe Halahuni and cornerback Brandon Hardin both had shoulder injuries and weren't available. Also out was defensive tackle Kevin Frahm (knee). Defensive tackle Dominic Glover was still awaiting word on his academic eligibility, but looked doubtful for the opener.
The Beavers were also adjusting after the departure of prolific running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who left Oregon State a year early to go to the NFL. He now plays for the Atlanta Falcons.
In contrast to the Beavers, the Hornets entered the season mostly injury-free. Fleming had surgery on his throwing elbow after last season, but certainly appeared fully recovered.
The two teams had met once before, in the 2003 opener, which the Beavers won 40-7.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
Postgame stats & quotes from Oregon State
• Game time weather was sunny at 86 degrees. Wind was 10 mph from the North with 18 mph gusts. Chance of precipitation was zero percent.
• Attendance for the game was 41,581. It marks the 23rd consecutive home game with a crowd of 40,000 or more.
• The game aired on Beaver Nation Online (osubeavers.com). It marked just the second time in 44 games that an Oregon State game did not air on television.
• Oregon State captains at the start of the game were Lance Mitchell, Mike Remmers, Anthony Watkins and Cameron Collins.
• Oregon State won the coin toss and elected to defer. Sacramento State received the ball from the West end zone to start the game.
• Oregon State wore all black while Sacramento State wore white uniform tops with green pants.
Oregon State Team Notes
• Overall, Oregon State played eight true freshmen. That is a new team record for a single-season, surpassing the seven that played in 1997, head coach Mike Riley’s first season. Those true freshmen were Tyrequek Zimmerman, Trevor Romaine, Brandin Cooks, Terron Ward, Malcolm Agnew, Kyle Egan, Jabral Johnson and Dylan Wynn.
• Fourteen players made their first career starts, including eight on the defensive side of the ball.
• The loss snapped Oregon State’s home opener win streak at nine games.
• Oregon State’s field goal block in the fourth quarter was the team’s first since Derrick Doggett blocked a field goal in 2007 against Stanford.
• The game marked the sixth all-time overtime game for OSU and second at home (first at home was a 44-41 win over Oregon in 1998). OSU dropped to 2-4 in overtime games.
Oregon State Individual Notes
• Oregon State true freshmen Brandin Cooks (WR) and Malcolm Agnew (RB) started on Saturday. They are the first true freshmen in Oregon State history to start a season opener at either position.
• Malcolm Agnew posted his first career 100-yard rushing game, totaling 223 yards on 33 carries. By comparison, it took Jacquizz Rodgers three games, Yvenson Bernard four games and Steven Jackson seven games before each reached 100 yards in a single game.
• Agnew’s 223 yards rushing is the ninth-highest single-game total in Oregon State history.
• Agnew scored his first career touchdown rush on a 1-yard carry with 12:44 remaining in the fourth quarter. Less than five minutes later, he scored his second touchdown on a 4-yard rush. He scored his third touchdown of the game on a 17-yard rush in the first overtime.
• Trevor Romaine, a true freshman, made his first career field goal with 11:52 remaining in the second quarter. It was a 29-yarder. He later connected on a 45-yarder.
• Redshirt freshman Sean Mannion made his collegiate debut, starting the second half at quarterback. He finished the game 8-for-12 for 143 yards passing.
• Dylan Wynn, one of eight true freshmen to play, recovered his first career fumble in the third quarter.
• Scott Crichton made his first career start on the defensive line and was credited with his first career sack and two tackles for loss.
• Sean Martin forced and recovered his first career fumble in the fourth quarter.
Head Coach Mike Riley
On the quarterback situation...
“We had planned to play Sean Mannion. We were going to get him into the game at some point. We were going to do it in the second quarter, but we thought we better stay with Ryan Katz, try to get something going. It’s something we’ve been talking about for at least a week. We thought it would be very important for our team and for Sean to play some.”
On the game overall...
“The team is very, very disappointed not winning the game, and that’s what we have to live with. Tomorrow, we have to go on to the next game. We’ll take some things away from this game, like Malcolm Agnew rushing for this yardage. We can then build on this and carry over to the next game. But the ultimate thing right now is we lost the game, and so we’ll digest that and look at ways not to do that again, and then enhance some of the good things we were able to do.”
On the strong offensive line performance in the second half...
“I think that’s something we can build on. They got some confidence, so we made running plays, the quarterback made timely passes, and we came from way out of our own end and moved the ball. All of those things are really positive. It’s going to be a hard loss to live with, but we have to go on.”
Head Coach Marshall Sperbeck
On going for the two-point conversion during overtime…
“We knew we had to. We got to that point and we were gassed. We just figured we had a 50-50 chance and we went for it and got the win.”
On this being possibly the biggest win in the program’s history…
“I would say if it is not the biggest win in the program’s history, it’s up there. As far as my tenure, it’s definitely the biggest win.”
On losing momentum on the fumble…
“We did lose momentum a little bit after the fumble, but we did bounce back and our defense kept us in it. It takes both sides to win. Fortunately the defense kept it in check.”
Junior Quarterback Jeff Fleming
On Oregon State’s improved offense in the second half…
“They had the momentum in their favor. They were really starting to find a feel and were able to drive the ball down the field. Even though they missed the field goal, they were really driving the ball.”
On decision to go for the game winning two-point conversion…
“We were considering it. We didn’t really know for sure about it. I walked over there to the coaches and had a good feeling. My teammates and coaches were discussing it and I finally just said, ‘coach, let’s go, let’s get this done now.’ Luckily it worked out. We decided we came all the way up here, we battled so hard, we figured let’s just go for the gusto. We thought we had a good matchup on the left side so I laid it up and it worked out.”
On the post-game celebration in the locker room…
“We were singing our fight song for our school pride and for all of our fans. We had a break on our coach Brooks. He was our strength and conditioning coach that passed away during the offseason. He really had a big effect on all of us so we made sure to give this one to him.”
On the win for the program…
“This was just another game for us. It was back and forth and in the end we believed in ourselves and executed. There was no doubt in any of our minds that we could do it.”
Senior Wide Receiver Brandyn Reed
On the meaning of the win for the program…
“It’s a win. I want to say it’s like every win, but this is a big one. This is just the beginning of great things. We believe in each other and that’s one thing that we preach. We deserve it.”
On the decision to go for the game winning two-point conversion…
“That was all the coaches’ call. I came off the sideline ready for a field goal, hoping that we would get it up this time so they didn’t block it. Coach made the call and I looked at Jeff Fleming, he looked at me, I just had to go and make a play.”