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September 3, 2011

Hornets sting the Beavs

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP)-The decision to go for two points wasn't really a choice for Sacramento State. It was a given.

Quarterback Jeff Fleming hit Brandyn Reed with a touchdown pass in overtime to pull even with Oregon State and found him again in the end zone when the Hornets went for two in the two-point conversion for a 29-28 upset win over the Beavers on Saturday.

"We got the touchdown and decided that we came all the way up here and battled so hard, let's just go for the gusto," Fleming said.

"We know we had to," he said. "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."

With the game tied at 21, true freshman Malcolm Agnew put the Beavers ahead in overtime with a 17-yard touchdown run. Fleming countered with a 4-yard scoring pass to Reed and the conversion to win it.

Fleming completed 22 of 35 passes for 257 yards and three scores for the Big Sky's Hornets, who were 0-10 against upper division opponents since 2002. Chase Daedder caught six passes for 61 yards and two scores.

The victory was especially poignant for the Hornets because of the loss of strength and conditioning coach Terrance Brooks, who died in June at age 47. The players wore the initials "TB" on their helmets.

"I was just saying, 'Coach Brooks, please? Anything'," Fleming said. "And you know? Something happened. I can't speculate, but something happened."

The game was unpredictable from the start.

Agnew ran for 223 yards and three scores to become the heir apparent to Jacquizz Rodgers for the Beavers, who hadn't dropped a home opener since 2001.

His second score, a 4-yard run, came with 8:08 left in regulation to tie it at 21. 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.

True freshman Trevor 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. 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, and 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. Later, coach Mike Riley said the change was by design because of how well Mannion had done in camp.

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.

The Beavers were hampered by injuries. 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 is awaiting word on his academic eligibility and did not play.

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 Oregon State, 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.


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