Vernon Adams passed for 411 yards and ran for 107 and the go-ahead score with 18 seconds to go as Eastern Washington upset No. 25 Oregon State, 49-46, on Saturday in Corvallis, Ore., to become the third FCS team to beat a ranked FBS team.
Adams overwhelmed the Beavers in a performance sure to attract attention around the nation. He threw for four touchdowns and ran for two, completing 23 of 30 passes despite leaving the game twice — once with cramping and a second time after taking a hard hit near the sideline.
Adams returned, though, and scored on a 2-yard run to put the Eagles up 49-46. It was the first time a team from the Football Championship Subdivision has defeated a ranked team from the Football Bowl Subdivision since James Madison beat Virginia Tech in September 2010.
Sean Mannion threw for 422 yards and Brandin Cooks had 13 catches for 196 yards for the Beavers, who two seasons ago were similarly surprised by lower division Sacramento State and stumbled to a 3-9 finish.
Getting the ball back in the final seconds, Mannion led the Beavers down the field, completing two quick passes to give Oregon State a chance to tie, but Trevor Romaine’s 52-yard field goal attempt was wide right.
Asked if he thought his team overlooked the Eagles, Oregon State coach Mike Riley was thoughtful.
“I don’t. I don’t,” he said. “I think that would be a discredit to that kid playing QB and all the plays they made. I don’t think that’s it.”
Ashton Clark had 155 yards receiving, and Cooper Kupp had 119 yards and two touchdowns for the Eagles (1-0), who are ranked fourth in the preseason FCS poll and third in the coaches poll. It was the school’s first win over a Pacific-12 Conference opponent. Eastern Washington went 11-3 last season and was the Big Sky co-champion before losing in the semifinals of the FCS playoffs.
Eastern Washington has played tough against Pac-12 schools in recent years, falling 30-27 to Washington in the season opener in 2011 and 24-20 to Washington State last season.
“That’s a good football team with good players. They’ve been good for a long time,” Riley said.
The Beavers went 9-4 in 2012 and played in the Alamo Bowl against Texas. It was the biggest turnaround in school history over the season before, which opened with a 29-28 overtime loss to the Hornets.
The Eagles rolled up 625 yards of offense as Oregon State was powerless to deal with the mobile Adams. Eastern Washington scored on every possession except for one in the third quarter, when Adams left briefly with cramping.
The Beavers led 7-6 after the first quarter because Eastern Washington’s first two scores were a pair of Kevin Miller field goals. But Adams threw one touchdown pass to Clark and two to Cupp as the Eagles took a 29-17 lead into halftime.
Oregon State got back on top briefly in the third quarter with a 7-yard TD reception by Cooks and a 3-yard scoring run for Woods. The 2-point conversion made it 32-29 Beavers.
From there the teams traded scores. Oregon State led 46-43 after a 3-yard TD run by Storm Woods with 4:50 remaining. However, Adams orchestrated an 11-play, 75-yard drive, which he fittingly capped with his final touchdown run.
The upset was one of the more stunning of the opening weekend. North Dakota State beat Kansas State, 24-21, on Friday night, Towson defeated Connecticut, 33-18, on Thursday, and McNeese State beat South Florida, 53-21, on Saturday.
At No. 3 Oregon 66, Nicholls 3: Marcus Mariota threw a touchdown pass and ran for two additional scores and the Ducks made easy work of the lower-tier Colonels in coach Mark Helfrich’s debut in Eugene, Ore.
Mariota, who set an Oregon record with 38 touchdown passes last season as a redshirt freshman, completed 12 of 21 passes for 234 yards before sitting after the third quarter when Oregon had a 45-3 lead. He also ran for 113 yards.
De’Anthony Thomas added 128 yards and two more touchdowns for the Ducks.
After the game, Mariota was given the game ball and handed it over to Helfrich.
“We wanted to give something to Coach Helfrich because he earned it,” Mariota said.