It was a rough night in Salt Lake City for the Oregon State Beavers.
The Beavers were without starting quarterback Tristan Gebbia, who suffered a hamstring injury in last week's game against the Ducks, and he wasn't the only big name to miss action.
Just hours before the game the school announced that star running back Jermar Jefferson was unavailable due to COVID-19 testing and contact tracing protocols.
The sky seemed to be falling, but the Beavers were still confident following their big upset over Oregon.
They trotted out redshirt sophomore quarterback Chance Nolan for his first start with the Beavers and would rely on veteran running back BJ Baylor to shoulder the load for his young signal-caller.
However, things went from bad to worse for OSU when Baylor left the game with a shoulder injury after just three carries. He would not return.
With 14:36 left in the game, Utah returned an Oregon State punt to take the 30-10 lead and it appeared they were ready to send the Beavers home, but OSU wouldn't go down easy.
"We know every game will come down to the fourth quarter," said linebacker Avery Roberts. "Doesn't matter what the score is early. We know at the end it's gonna come down to the fourth quarter. So, whether you're up or down, you just gotta keep playing."
And the Beavers did. Though it seemed unlikely, Oregon State mounted a comeback. A few yards here, a few yards there, and the Beavers were putting together a drive.
With 5:07 left in the game, Nolan found Kolby Taylor with an incredible dart to make a 30-24 Utah lead. Utah had the lead, but OSU had them on the ropes.
Said Nolan, "I can't speak enough about the relentlessness of our team. The game is never over. It's a long game. We got 15 minute quarters and a lot can happen in a minute. We never give up and you gotta fight to the end. That's what our team does week in and week out."
The Beavers never quit. It has become the team's calling card under head coach Jonathan Smith, and it's exactly what they did on Saturday. Until the final whistle, the team showed fight.
But the fight fell short as Utah held on for the victory.
Although the team showed resolve, Coach Smith wasn't happy with the lack of execution. "We didn't execute at a high enough level to win the game," said Smith. "That's what I told the team in the locker room. We're gonna fight for four quarters. I respect the effort and competitiveness of our outfit, but we gotta execute better to win games."
The loss stings, but we really need to give Oregon State a little credit. The defense stepped up big and looks completely different than the defense we saw open the season against Washington State. And despite losing all their best offensive weapons, the Beavers still had a chance to score the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds, all with a backup quarterback and third-string running back leading the way.
The game itself was ugly. The result was brutal. But the Beavers still showed that good things are brewing in Corvallis. At the very least, you know these Beavers will never roll over. If they are going down, they're going down swinging.