Mannion converted two crucial fourth downs in the fourth quarter and then threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks in overtime to push the Beavers past Utah 51-48 Saturday night.
“That was a great college football game," said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. "It is unfortunate somebody had to lose, especially that it had to be us. I am proud of my kids, they were warriors tonight and hung in 60 minutes. We just came up one play short.”
Mannion completed 27 of 44 passes for 443 yards and five touchdowns in a back-and-forth thriller. Cooks had nine receptions for 210 yards and three scores as the Beavers (2-1, 1-0 Pac-12) overcame the loss of Storm Woods to a frightening neck injury and opened conference play with a road win.
“Its not all on the defensive backs, the front and linebacker’s job is to get to the quarterback and their quarterback was comfortable all night in the pocket," said Utes linebacker Jason Whittingham. "We need to come back next week and make sure we get to him, especially since BYU’s quarterback is a good runner. We need to be tougher.”
The weary OSU defense, which gave up 539 yards, rallied in overtime and forced a 41-yard field goal by Andy Phillips on Utah's possession.
Travis Wilson passed for 279 yards and ran for 142 and three touchdowns while rallying the Utes (2-1, 0-1 Pac-12) from 13 points down to tie the score at 45-45 on a 9-yard run with 21 seconds to play.
“We never gave up on offense," said Wilson. "I tried to make plays and make the game as close as I could, but fell short. Our team showed heart and battled to the end, but just fell short. Its not a good way to start a game, we need to correct that before next game. Our offense is something special but can’t start off slow like we did tonight.”
James Poole had a career-high 117 yards rushing and Dres Anderson had 101 yards receiving but the Utes couldn't overcome Wilson's three interceptions.
On fourth-and-nine from the OSU 22-yard-line, Mannion completed a 13-yard pass to Richard Mullaney. The drive culminated in an 18-yard touchdown reception by Cooks. A two-point conversion pass to Conner Hamlett gave OSU a 45-38 lead with 2:29 to play in regulation.
Earlier in the quarter, on fourth-and-1 at their own 45, the Beavers used razzle-dazzle to keep their advantage. Mannion pitched the ball to Terron Ward, who threw it back across the field to the quarterback, who in turn launched it 48 yards to Brandin Cooks. The play led to Romaine's 20-yard field goal, his third of the game.
With 8:12 remaining, Storm Woods launched himself awkwardly into the path of a Utah blitzer and looked as if he injured his neck. He didn't move for several minutes as both teams watched pensively on bended knees. Woods finally gestured positively with his right hand as he was loaded in an ambulance. No official word from OSU updated his condition by early Sunday morning.
Mannion needed every one of his pinpoint passes to overcome the emergent Utah offense and the stingy Ute run defense that allowed just 48 yards on 28 attempts.
When Wilson's arm failed him, he became a running quarterback and a very effective one.
The 6-foot-6, 240-pounder used his long stride to run and dive for a 24-yard touchdown -- his fourth rush of the 85-yard drive -- with 4:25 to play. He added another score on a quarterback draw with 21 seconds remaining to tie the score at 45-45
Sean Martin intercepted Wilson on the first drive of the second half and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. The Utes didn't waste much time (1:17) on the ensuing possession, rolling up most their yardage on the ground and culminating on a 35-yard TD run by Wilson on the zone read -- a play that had been stuffed most of the first half.
The next time the Utes got the ball, they mixed the run and pass effectively and scored again on a 1-yard plunge by Poole.
Utah was driving again in OSU territory and eyeing its first lead when Steven Nelson jumped a slant route and grabbed an acrobatic interception -- the first of his two picks. The next play, Cooks turned a short reception into a 55-yard touchdown and OSU led 34-24.
Cooks' 200-yard game is the eighth in OSU history and the first since Sammie Stoughter had 223 yards against Washington on Oct. 14, 2006.
Lucky Radley scored on a 15-yard reception for Utah to trim the lead to 34-31.
In the first quarter, the Utes mostly rushed just four down linemen giving Mannion time to scan the field. The junior connected with Mullaney on pair of long pass plays and then hit him just inside the far sideline for a 17-yard touchdown. Mullaney had a career-best seven receptions for 142 yards.
Trevor Romaine kicked the second of two first-half field goals to put OSU up 13-0 early in the second quarter.
The Utes, who rushed nine times for six yards in the first quarter, couldn't muster a first down until the second quarter but then Wilson found Anderson running free on a crossing route from 49 yards out to cut the lead to 13-7.
Mannion lofted another TD pass along the back of the end zone to the outstretched arms of Hamlett. Utah then drove the length of the field but settled for Phillips' 27-yard field goal just before halftime to make it 20-10.
The last time Oregon State won in Salt Lake City was a 24-21 victory in 1968.
The Utes hadn't surrendered more than 50 points since TCU beat Utah 55-28 in 2009.
“The team is hurting, they spilt their guts out," said Whittingham. "When we were down 27-10, the look in their eyes was that they still believed. That is a great thing to have in a team. It was tough to fall short in the end.”
Utah next travels to Provo to take on BYU September 21st.