Junior running back Terron Ward’s 34-yard run ignited OSU offense in its only touchdown drive vs. Stanford
There were not many explosive offensive plays on Saturday in the Beavers’ 20-12 loss to No. 8 Stanford.
Junior quarterback Sean Mannion was under pressure all night from the Stanford defense and averaged less than five yards per attempt, his lowest of the season.
In the third quarter, however, came some unexpected life from a run game that had been all but written off for the matchup with one of the best defensive fronts in the nation.
Down by 10 points with about six minutes remaining in the third period, junior running back Terron Ward launched into the secondary for a 34-yard run that brought the Beavers into Stanford territory.
Oregon State had put some drives together earlier in the game, but Ward’s scamper, his longest of the season, was the foundation of OSU’s only touchdown drive of the contest: a 12-play, 90-yard stretch that ate up nearly half of the third quarter.
“It was a big play in the game,” Ward said. “We needed a spark. … That’s something we need to do to open up the passing game. At one time in the game they were dropping back eight people and not even respecting the run.”
Both Ward and sophomore running back Storm Woods have had efficient games back and forth, and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf will continue to feature whichever one steps up in each contest.
“They both give you a little different spark at times,” Langsdorf said. “Terron had an excellent game and will continue to do that. We’ll play him a little more. We’re not going to make any major change or anything, but he did have a nice game.”
Ward noted the trend of having at least one of the two backs stepping up each week.
“I was on for Saturday, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “I was on, so I was seeing a lot more of the game, but sometimes (Woods) is having a good game.”
Ward also made a 7-yard reception to bring the Beavers inside the 10-yard line on that drive to set up a touchdown pass from Mannion.
Ward’s catch was one of five he made in the game, totaling 33 yards. He led the team in rushing with 39 yards despite only taking three handoffs, and now leads the team with a 3.3 average yards per carry.
He was the cornerstone of a running game that moved the ball against Stanford at times on Saturday. In the end, the Beavers averaged only 0.7 yards per carry, but that average is skewed by the negative 60 yards from the eight sacks that count toward the rushing total.
Langsdorf said one of the ways the Beavers expect to give Mannion more time in future weeks is to rely on the running backs to aid in protection.
He acknowledged Ward’s addition to the run game but was even more impressed with Ward’s blocking.
“He’s strong and tough, and he’s a very good blocker,” Langsdorf said. “We have no worries about him in protection at all.”
Though only listed at 5-foot-7, Ward is adamant that he doesn’t fear making a block against bigger opponents.
“You can’t be scared in this game,” he said. “If you come out there scared, you might as well not be on the field.”
OSU’s next opponent, the University of Southern California, has defensive similarities to the Cardinal.
USC has recorded only one fewer sack than Stanford, while the Cardinal’s eight sacks on Saturday brings them to a tie for the Pac-12 lead at 27 on the year.
The Trojans have four different players with at least four quarterback takedowns.
“It’ll be another tough challenge up front,” Langsdorf said. “We’ll do some things to help out the protection with the backs and tight ends. It will be a big key to the game to protect.”
Josh Worden, sports reporter
On Twitter @WordenJosh