BeaversEdge - Season of The Giant Killers - Game 4
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Season of The Giant Killers - Game 4

October 7, 1967

The Oregon State Beavers traveled north to Seattle to face their longtime PAC foe, the Washington Huskies, in game
four of their 1967 football season. The Beavers were red-hot and looking to extend their winning streak to ten
games. Media pundits were already talking about the possibility of the Beavers making a trip to the Rose Bowl,
and they were even writing about the plausibility of an undefeated season. Beaver Head Coach Dee Andros and his
staff would have to keep their boys focused if they hoped to defeat the ever-dangerous Huskies.

Oregon State Quarterback Steve Preece pitches the ball to one of his teammates as Husky defenders close in.
The Beavers were battling the injury bug, and several key starters were unable to take the field at kickoff. Defensive
end Harry Gunner would not play, but his backup, Mike Leep, had plenty of game experience. Larry Rich would get
the call for safety Mark Waletich who was out with a sore ankle. Also hobbled by a bad ankle was tight end Gary
Houser, with Nick Rogers getting the nod in his stead. Fortunately, Houser's injury was not too much to keep him
from performing his regular duties as the team's punter.

The Huskies were entering the game with only one defeat; having lost their season opener to the Nebraska Cornhuskers
in Seattle. The loss was enough to awaken the Husky attack. Both of their next two games were impressive wins,
including a 17-0 skunking of Wisconsin and a 30-7 bombardment of Air Force. The Huskies didn't have many individual
standouts on their roster, but defensive tackle Steve Thompson was first team All-Conference and defensive back Al Worley was a
quarterback's worst nightmare (NCAA record 14 interceptions in '68). Despite the lack of star players, longtime
Head Coach Jim Owens - Andros' teammate at Oklahoma - had
carefully fostered team chemistry to mold a unit known for its staunch defense and quick-strike offense.

The two Northwest rivals last met in Corvallis the year before, where the Beavers came out on top 24-13. The Huskies
were hungry for revenge, especially in front of the 55,000 rabid fans who had arrived to cheer for the purple and
gold in the friendly confines of Husky Stadium.

Game Recap:
The day started out well for the Beavers with a 16-yard sweep from wingback Don Summers. On the very next play,
however, a fumbled pitchout from quarterback Steve Preece to halfback Billy main put a stop to the drive. The
Huskies recovered on the Beaver 32-yard line, and the turnover provided an ominous foreshadowing of the troubles
yet to come.

The Huskies immediately went to work. After a nine-yard pass and 16-yard quarterback keeper, the Dawgs found themselves
with first down and goal-to-go on the Beaver six-yard line. The Beaver defense, never a group to give up no matter
how ugly the circumstances, had other ideas and soon put a stop to any Husky enthusiasm. Charlie Olds did the
honors by deftly intercepting a Husky pass in the endzone.

The Beaver defense had given the momentum and the ball right back to the OSU offense, and Preece and company didn't
let the opportunity go to waste. Taking possession at their own 20-yard line, the Beavers began a clock-eating
march deep into Husky territory. The Beavers applied their usual dosage of punches, pitches, and sweeps, the longest
of which being a 13-yard end around by Preece. Several plays later, Preece went to work again, this time taking
to the air with a 21-yard toss to fullback Bill Enyart. The Beavers eventually made their way to the Husky
one-yard line, where Preece scored the first points of the game on a keeper up the middle. Mike Haggard came on
for the PAT, but the kick was off target. With two minutes to go before the end of the first quarter, the Beavers were on
top 6-0.

The Huskies charged right back on the following possession. Taking over on their own 24-yard line, the Huskies
needed only five plays and the last two minutes of the first quarter to reach the Beaver 20. After another five
plays, the Huskies were on the Beaver four-yard line, but the Beaver defense once again showed its character by
forcing Coach Owens to settle for a field goal. The kick was good, and it cut the Beaver lead in half.

Both defensive units tightened down, allowing the punting units to finally get some practice. Near the end of
the half, the Huskies were forced to punt from their own 49-yard line. The kick was shanked badly, and the Beavers
appeared to have excellent field position as they downed the ball on their own 42. However, celebration on the
OSU sideline was quickly squelched when the refs called the Beavers for clipping. The penalty, enforced with 15-yards
and an automatic first down, returned possession to the Huskies on the Beavers 36-yard line. Five plays later,
Coach Owens called on his kicker for another field goal attempt. With only seconds left to go in the half, the
26-yard boot was good and tied the game as the teams headed for the locker rooms.

The third quarter was uneventful from an offensive standpoint. The defensive units prevented anything even remotely
resembling a scoring opportunity, forcing punts or turnovers whenever the offensive units approached mid-field.

At the start of the fourth quarter, Coach Owens decided to make a change. Desperate for an spark to break the
Beaver defense's stranglehold, Owens benched his starting quarterback for Grants Pass native Tom Sparlin. The
gambit appeared to work, as Sparlin took over from his own 14-yard line and promptly led the purple attack down
to the Beaver 35. It wasn't long, however, before the Beavers again found their footing. On came the Husky kicker
for his third attempt of the day, but this time the snap was high and the 52-yard attempt fell short. As time
ticked away, the game looked more and more like it was destined to end in a tie. Were it not for Beaver turnovers,
that likely would have been the case.

The first gaffe of the quarter came as the Beavers finally seemed to be finding some second half offensive rhythm.
The Huskies recovered the fumble on their own 44-yard line, but the Beaver defense - as they had done all day
- refused to let the opposition take advantage of the good field position.

The last turnover proved to be too
costly, when another fumble gave the Huskies the ball at the Beaver 35 late in the fourth quarter. As the final
minutes ticked away, the Huskies quickly took advantage of the great field position and the fatigued Beaver defense. It took just two plays to score their first and only touchdown of the day, with the scoring shot coming on a 15-yard carry around the left
end.

The PAT was converted, and the day ended for the Beavers 13-6, their first loss since October 8th of the previous year. They would need to right the ship quickly if they still hoped to make a postseason trip to Pasadena. No. 1 ranked USC and No. 4 ranked
UCLA still lay ahead, and both teams were rolling through their early season schedules. In addition, a visit to No. 2 Purdue was just two weeks away.

Déjà vu: The loss brought back memories of the last time OSU had enjoyed a long winning streak.
Five years earlier, Coach Tommy Prothro had led the Beavers to Seattle with a ten-game winning streak, only
to be beaten 34-7 by the Huskies.

An Intense Game: Testifying to the game's hard-hitting intensity, Beavers Larry Rich and Mike Foote were
each carried off the fields after suffering concussions. Near the close of the game, officials had to step in
to prevent a sideline-clearing brawl from developing.

Post-Game Comments, 1967:
"This has to rank as one of the best ballgames played on this field in a long time. Our big plays were a little
bigger in the fourth quarter than Oregon State's." - Washington Coach Jim Owens

"We made more mistakes than we have in a long time. Washington had a very good defensive team and their offense
worked well too. But you don't make the kind of mistakes we did and expect to win… Also, a big difference was
the fact that we couldn't move the ball consistently. And, too, I felt that we didn't get the offensive blocking
we wanted." - Coach Dee Andros

Reminiscing with the coaches, 2002:
"That was a heartbreaker of a close game. That was one that was very disappointing because we were high going
in. I know I was as disappointed as I could be because I really thought that we could beat them. And they were
a good team. I mean, I'm not taking anything away from them, but for us to ride that high and then to lose like
that, it really hurt." - Coach Dee Andros

"The Washington game was a very difficult loss. We made a couple of defensive errors that cost us the ball
game."... "On one short pass we had a linebacker out of position. So, I guess if anybody should be taken out and buried,
it's me."... "Although there were lots of turnovers, a defense needs to be able to rise to the occasion." - Defensive
Ends and Linebackers Coach Ed Knecht


Next Up: Game 5 - The Brigham Young Cougars

Previous articles:
Season of The Giant Killers - The Prelude
Season of The Giant Killers - Game 1
Season of The Giant Killers - Game 2
Season of The Giant Killers - Game 3