Beavers shake off sluggish start to gain midseason momentum

CORVALLIS — Six weeks in and Oregon State seems to be doing its normal midseason thing — gaining momentum.

A determined Jacquizz Rodgers ran for career highs of 189 yards and four touchdowns to lead Oregon State to a 38-22 win over Stanford Saturday, propelling the Beavers to their second straight win. Now the Beavers have a week off to take stock in advance of a trip to USC on Oct. 24.

"We are heading in the right direction," said Oregon State quarterback Sean Canfield, who passed for 290 yards. "It's a great win going into a bye. If you lose going into a bye it is a long two weeks."

Two weeks ago, the outlook was hazy at best for the Beavers (4-2, 2-1 Pacific-10), after back-to-back home losses to Cincinnati and Arizona. Rodgers looked sluggish, Canfield was hurried and the defense was unreliable.

But the Beavers beat Arizona State 28-17 in Tempe last week before putting together their most complete performance against the Cardinal, who came into the game undefeated in the conference and on top of the standings.

"It was a defining moment for us," said defensive tackle Stephen Paea.

Rodgers, who had missed the 100-yard mark in three straight games, ran for 151 yards and three touchdowns before halftime, and the Beavers took a 31-7 lead into the break.

Rodgers credited newspaper stories about his recent mediocre performances as motivation and he clearly outshined the nation's fourth-leading rusher, Stanford tailback Toby Gerhart. "People have been talking bad about me in the papers," said the reigning Pac-10 player of the year said. "They said Quizz hasn't rushed for 100 yards in three games. I took that personally."

The Beavers also largely contained the bruising 237-pound Gerhart, holding him to 96 yards. Gerhart scored the last two touchdowns of the game for the Cardinal (4-2, 3-1 Pacific-10), but he wasn't the force he was when he ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns in Stanford's 36-28 win in last year's season opener against Oregon State.

After starting the last three seasons with 2-3 records, the Beavers won 22 of 25 games played after the fifth week. But while history suggests another epic run could be in the making, there are reasons to assume the road ahead will be a winding one.

The Beavers will play No. 6 USC in Los Angeles, where they haven't beaten the Trojans since 1960. And the Beavers are 116th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in passing defense and 73rd in total defense.

"Everybody's working hard and has kept working throughout this to keep it going and to get better all the time," coach Mike Riley said. "The last two weeks we look like we've gotten better. We just need to find a way to keep that going."

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