SAN DIEGO (AP) — While Oregon State head coach Mike Riley has been on the losing side many times at Qualcomm Stadium, he is not sure he can stomach winning like his team did on Saturday night.
Sean Mannion threw three touchdowns and Oregon State scored three times in the fourth quarter to come from behind and defeat San Diego State 34-30.
After Mannion hit Terron Ward for a 10-yard score to pull Oregon State within 30-28, cornerback Steven Nelson intercepted Quinn Kaehler’s pass and returned it 16 yards to give the Beavers the lead with 2:38 remaining in the game.
“That play will go down in the history of this season, I think,” Riley said.
Riley coached the San Diego Chargers on the same field from 1999-2001 in a brief hiatus from Oregon State, posting a 14-34 record. He was fired after three seasons.
“It’s one of those things where I’m not sure I can take this anymore,” Riley said. “Actually, I know I can. It’s fun to see those kids compete and it’s fun because we win. We are both good and fortunate to do that. Guys made plays that were good and we were opportunistic at the end.”
Both teams were penalized heavily as Oregon State committed 13 penalties for 99 yards and San Diego State committed nine penalties for 87 yards.
“We had a lot of mistakes out there,” Nelson said. “We’ve got to head back to the lab and fix those mistakes, but other than that, I’m proud of the team stepping up and making some plays when we really needed it.”
Kaehler, who was making his first career start, was intercepted again on the next possession by Ryan Murphy to seal the win for the Beavers. It’s their second win in five games against the Aztecs.
“I thought our players put in a good effort,” Aztecs head coach Rocky Long said. “I thought they came ready to play and they played hard for the whole game and we made some critical errors near the end of the game and we ended up losing.”
Mannion completed 38 of 55 attempts for 367 yards, and the Oregon State rushing game was held to just 10 yards.
“While we won the game, I think there are a lot of learning experiences, that’s for sure,” Mannion said. “At the same time, I’m really happy with the way our team fought throughout the game. There were a lot of points where we had been sputtering and it would have been easy to quit but I think we kept fighting hard throughout the whole game.”
Kaehler completed 16 of 24 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns after taking over the starting job when Adam Dingwell injured his back last week against Ohio State. Adam Muema rushed a career-high 28 times for 71 yards and a touchdown.
“The first one was a screen pass and I made a bad throw,” Kaehler said of the interceptions. “The second one the linebacker dropped off and it was tipped.”
San Diego State has won just two of its last 22 games against teams in the Pac-12 conference.