CORVAILLIS, Ore. (AP) — Damien Martinez ran for a career-high 178 yards and three touchdowns, and Oregon State’s defense turned in another strong performance Saturday night in a 42-9 victory over Colorado.
The Beavers (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12) have won three straight games and are bowl eligible for the second year in a row after ending a seven-year bowl hiatus last season.
“I definitely think it’s a step for the program,” said Oregon State senior safety Jayden Grant, who had a team-high six tackles and an interception. “Just from the standpoint of where we’re at, how we handle business. When you’re favored in a game like that it’s easy to let it get to your head.”
Colorado (1-6, 1-3 Pac-12), playing its second game under interim head coach Mike Sanford, was unable to build off the momentum of last week’s overtime victory against California.
Oregon State extended a 21-3 halftime lead to 28-3 on a 60-yard touchdown pass from Ben Gulbranson to tight end Jack Velling on the opening drive of the third quarter.
On Colorado’s first offensive play of the second half, J.T. Shrout’s pass intended for tight end Brady Russell was intercepted by cornerback Alex Austin and returned 42 yards for a touchdown. The pick 6 gave the Beavers a 35-3 advantage.
Oregon State amassed 472 total yards, including 270 on the ground.
“They know what they want to do and they do it very well,” said Colorado linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo, who had a game-high 11 tackles. “Great blocks and the O line, they really know how to block it.”
Martinez agreed with that assessment, saying “it starts with the O line.”
“He’s special,” Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said of Martinez. “The guy’s got a nice knack for being a true freshman. He got his fair share of carries tonight and showed up.”
The Buffaloes finally scored a touchdown on Jayle Stacks’ 1-yard run late in the third quarter to culminate an 80-yard drive.
Martinez, who was a workhorse with 22 carries, opened the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter.
Oregon State increased its lead to 14-0 early in the second quarter on Gulbranson’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Silas Bolden.
Colorado got on the board with Cole Becker’s 44-yard field goal midway through the second quarter.
Martinez’s second rushing touchdown – a 3-yard burst up the middle – extended the lead to 21-3 with 1:45 remaining in the first half.
The Buffaloes had a chance to put points on the board before the break, but wide receiver Jordan Tyson dropped Shrout’s fourth-down pass at the Oregon State 15-yard line with 18 seconds left in the first half.
Colorado: The Buffaloes didn’t generate enough offense to threaten Oregon State on its home field, and the game was essentially over early in the third quarter. Colorado was limited to 290 yards and Shrout was intercepted twice.
Oregon State: Damien Martinez may have worked his way into a lead-back role. The true freshman has produced back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, and 372 yards and four touchdowns in the last three games.
It was an efficient performance by Ben Gulbranson in his third career start in place of Chance Nolan, who remained in concussion protocol for a third straight game. The redshirt freshman completed 14 of 21 passes for 202 yards with two touchdowns and lost a fumble. The Beavers are 3-0 with Gulbranson as the starting quarterback.
Colorado: Will host Arizona State next Saturday.
Oregon State: Will be at Washington on Nov. 4
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