Cougs take down Beavs

Freshman quarterback Jayden de Laura shines for the Cougars with three total touchdowns

True+freshman+quarterback+Jayden+de+Laura+diving+into+the+endzone+to+extend+the+lead+to+21-7.

KARL MAASDAM | OREGON STATE ATHLETICS

True freshman quarterback Jayden de Laura diving into the endzone to extend the lead to 21-7.

CODY SCHOELER, Evergreen football reporter

The WSU Cougars beat the Oregon State Beavers 38-31 on Saturday in Reser Stadium at Corvallis, Oregon.

WSU (1-0) head coach Nick Rolovich won his debut game as the first-year coach and said the team’s performance was nothing short of impressive.

“I can’t imagine that there is any Coug alumni out there that watched that game that weren’t incredibly proud of those kids and how they played and how they represented the university,” Rolovich said.

Freshman quarterback Jayden de Laura also made his WSU debut and put up considerable numbers in his first start.

De Laura, who became the first true freshman to start under center for WSU in program history, finished 18-33 for 227 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The freshman also added another 43 yards and a score on the ground.

The first-time starter began a bit slow, going three and out on his first possession and throwing an interception to Oregon State defensive back Jaydon Grant in the first quarter. He was able to rebound and make plays with his arm and legs while leading the Cougars to victory.

“Jayden played an awesome game, just staying poised, trusting his reads,” said Travell Harris, redshirt junior wide receiver. “You’ve seen him out there running. My boy’s mobile.”

Rolovich said de Laura made a lot of good throws, and the respect he has earned from his teammates was evident.

“The good thing about Jayden is though he was confident when he got off the plane, and this moment wasn’t too big for him,” Rolovich said. “I don’t think he will ever feel like he arrived.”

De Laura looked to his slot receivers often in the game, completing 13 of his 18 passes to Harris and redshirt senior Renard Bell.

Harris had the better day, grabbing seven catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns. It was the best game of his career, setting or tying his career-highs in each stat. Harris also added 49 rushing yards, including a 44-yard score that iced the game. 

An unexpected Coug that stepped up and played well was junior running back Deon McIntosh. With starting running back junior Max Borghi out with an undisclosed injury, McIntosh led the way on the ground with 147 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries.

“He has shown, and I think we knew it, that he can be very productive in our offense” Rolovich said. “I think he showed everybody tonight.”

Oregon State (0-1) was led by a new starting quarterback of their own. Redshirt junior quarterback Tristan Gebbia was 34-48 for 329 yards and one touchdown.

Junior running back Jermar Jefferson also did a lot of damage to the Cougar defense. Jefferson ran for 120 yards and three touchdowns, along with catching five passes for 50 yards.

The Cougar defense was able to do enough to slow down Gebbia and Jefferson. New defensive coordinator Jake Dickert’s unit racked up four sacks and five tackles for loss and held the Beavers to just seven points in the first half.

“Those defensive kids — they believed, and it feels good to have something to believe in, and I’m very happy for them,” Rolovich.

Three players tied for the team lead with seven tackles: senior defensive back George Hicks, freshman defensive back Ayden Hector, and Brennan Jackson, redshirt sophomore edge rusher, who also registered half a sack.

Jackson said the defense was successful because of the trust they have built on that side of the ball.

“When you’re out there and you play knowing the guy next to you is going to do what he needs to do every single time, whether he’s tired or whether certain things open up, it’s like a feeling of freedom because you’re so disciplined,” Jackson said.

Hector, a true freshman walk-on, stepped up and started at the safety position because redshirt sophomore Tyrese Ross and redshirt junior Chad Davis Jr. were unable to play. Rolovich said the position was hit hard in the past 10 days and that a total of 32 players are currently unavailable.

“I wasn’t surprised that he made the plays he needed to make,” Jackson said. “I think he was going to do it coming in.” 

Ron Stone Jr., redshirt sophomore edge rusher, was a big reason the defensive line was so successful. He led the team with 1.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble. Redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Ahmir Crowder also played well upfront, recording three tackles and his first career sack.

The Cougars will take the field again in their first home game of the season when they take on the No.11 University of Oregon Ducks at 4 p.m. PST Saturday in Martin Stadium.