BeaversEdge - Season of the Giant Killers - Game 2
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Season of the Giant Killers - Game 2

September 23, 1967

Game two of the Oregon State Beavers' 1967 campaign was to be played in Tempe, AZ, against the Sun Devils of Arizona
State. The Beavers were coming off a season opening victory against Stanford, and were eager to extend their winning
streak to eight games. Some of that enthusiasm began to wane, however, as the Beavers stepped off their chartered
flight and into the 100-degree heat of the Arizona sun. Beaver Coach Dee Andros summed up the situation with typical
candor - "It's hot as hell."

Beaver QB Steve Preece dives across the goal line for one of his three scores.
The heat wasn't the only concern for Coach Andros, who was well aware of ASU's team speed and explosive scoring
potential. In their season opener one week before, the Sun Devils found themselves down 16-6 in the fourth quarter
to San Jose State. By the time the final whistle blew, ASU had scored three touchdowns for a 27-16 win. The scouting
reports were enough to convince the Beaver coaching staff to make some minor changes to the starting lineup, including
putting sophomore Rick Harrington (no relation to Joey) in at corner.

It would only be the third meeting in history between the two teams, as ASU was part of the WAC and wouldn't join
the PAC for another 11 years. The last meeting took place just one year before when Andros' squad eked out an
18-17 victory. Legendary Sun Devils Coach Frank
Kush looked to avenge that loss and put an end to the Beavers eight-game win streak. In addition to his team
speed, Coach Kush planned to take advantage of the toughness of his defensive line to stifle the OSU running attack.
His defensive team leader was All-American Curley
Culp, a "mean SOB" who went on to a brilliant 14-year NFL career.

ASU won the toss and elected to receive, but the Beaver defense quickly took control and forced the Sun Devils
into a three-and-out. Fortunately, the Beaver offense did not experience the same difficulties. Well aware that ASU's strength was up the middle, the Beavers attacked the outside edges,
with QB Steve Preece and Bill Main dishing out the lion's share of the damage. Eventually the Sun Devils made adjustments
and brought the march to a halt on their own 20-yard line. OSU kicker Mike Haggard came on for the 27-yard attempt,
but the kick was short and right of the posts.

The OSU defense again forced ASU to punt from their own end of the field, but the Sun Devils received
a huge gift when the Beavers fumbled on their punt return, giving them the ball at the Beaver 20-yard
line. Two plays later the Beaver defense showed the tenacity and resolve that would become its hallmark, when linebacker
Mike Groff stepped in and intercepted a dart from ASU QB Ed Roseborough on the OSU 15-yard line.

With momentum firmly in hand, the offense returned to the field and promptly put the Sun Devils back on their heels.
On the second play of the series ASU decided to blitz, but the gamble failed to pay off as Billy Main took the handoff from Preece
and finally tested Curley Culp and the heart of ASU's defensive front. After breaking through to the secondary,
Main slashed to the sideline and carried the ball downfield for a 43-yard gain. Four plays later, Preece ran it
in from one-yard out on a keeper. Haggard's kick was good, and the Beavers were on top 7-0 late in the first quarter.

While their defense was still reeling, the Sun Devil passing offense awoke with a fury. They proceeded to march
63 yards in only seven plays for a touchdown of their own - a 31 yard rifle shot from Roseborough to future Buffalo
Bills star J.D Hill. ASU shanked the PAT attempt, keeping the Beavers on top 7-6.

The defensive units for both teams regained control, preventing any scoring until late in the second quarter.
That's when OSU backup QB Bobby Mayes received a rare opportunity for playing time after Preece limped to the sideline
after getting his bell rung. Mayes made the most of the situation with a 40-yard sprint to the ASU 25. Preece quickly returned
to the field, guiding the Beavers the rest of the way and handing off to Don Summers for a 1-yard score. Haggard's
kick sent the Beavers to the locker room with a 14-6 lead and a much-needed reprieve from the heat.

The break was just what the Beavers needed to refresh their tanks, but it did little to lift the Sun Devils' spirits.
The Beavers resumed where they had left off, scoring on a nine play, 67-yard drive within the first four minutes.
Preece again did the damage, blasting in off-tackle for a 6-yard score. Haggard's PAT attempt was blocked, but
with a 20-6 lead and the Beaver defense firmly in control, the game appeared well in hand for Andros and the Beavers.

The Devils had other ideas, however, and when a Preece pass was intercepted and returned to the ASU 47, Coach Kush
made the decision to bench Roseborough in favor of backup Rick Shaw. Shaw exploited seemingly invisible holes in
the OSU secondary and quickly marched his squad downfield for a score. Shaw then hit Hill for the 2-point conversion, closing the gap to 20-14 and providing hope and momentum where none had existed only moments before.

Despite the heat, the Beavers refused to wilt and the defense held serve for the remainder of the third period. Midway
through the fourth quarter, Preece again took charge and led his crew on a 40-yard, seven-play drive, capped by
another touchdown run by the young QB. Haggard converted his fourth PAT attempt, giving the Beavers an insurmountable
27-14 lead. Although the Sun Devils managed a final touchdown in the closing minutes, the game was never again in jeopardy.

Star of the Game:
Steve Preece is an easy choice for MVP of the game. Not only did he rush for 107 yards, pass for 58, and score
three of the Beaver's four touchdowns; he even squib-kicked twice for an outstanding all-around performance.

ASU's Bane:
The Sun Devils would lose only one more game that season, finishing the year at 8-2. They would finish with the
same record for the next two seasons, with the Beavers dishing out the medicine two more times. The Sun Devils
earned a one-year reprieve from the Beaver onslaught in 1970, finishing the year undefeated at 11-0. They would
have to face the Beavers again in 1971, and once again the Beavers were their downfall - this time providing ASU's only loss on the
year. It wasn't until 1972 that Kush finally managed to get the Andros monkey off his back.


Clarifications and additional details:

Defensive formations:
The primary defensive formation was 6-2-3, but they regularly dropped off a defensive end to create a five-man
front. The defense utilized a lot of stunts and rotations, and against pass oriented offenses would adjust to a four-man front.

Starting Defensive Line:
Ends: Harry Gunner and Mike Foote
Tackles: Jess Lewis and Ron Boley
Guards: Jon Sandstrom and Bill Nelson
Mike Leep had a good amount of playing time but was not a regular starter.
Recruiting Steve Preece:
Coach Ed Knecht was the recruiter of Steve Preece referenced in The
Prelude. Coach Knecht had been the coach at Boise High, and had excellent connections in the region. He had
received a phone call warning him that a rival school was attempting to steal Preece away from the Beavers. As
Coach Knecht remembers it, he promptly called Coach Andros with the news, to which Andros responded, "Get the {expletive deleted} over there. And if you don't get him, don't bother to come back."


Next up: Week 3 - The Iowa Hawkeyes

Previous articles:
Season of The Giant Killers – The Prelude
Season of The Giant Killers - Game 1