Beavers Best Aggies, 27-22
No. 22 Oregon St. 27, New Mexico St. 22
By PETE HERRERA
AP Sports Writer
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Oregon State got the win, but the No. 22 Beaversstill don't look like the team that finished last season as one of the best inthe country.
Ken Simonton scored two touchdowns and ran for 169 yards as Oregon Statebounced back from a season-opening loss to beat lowly New Mexico State 27-22Saturday night.
Simonton, the Beavers' career rushing leader with 4,284 yards, scored on apair of 1-yard runs as Oregon State dodged the upset against a school that hashad just three winning seasons since 1967.
The Beavers (1-1) lost 44-24 to No. 19 Fresno State last week and didn't putaway the Aggies (0-3) until Mitch Meeuwsen recovered an onside kick with 1:26left.
It was another sluggish performance by the penalty-plagued Beavers, who went11-1 last season, won a share of the Pac-10 title, beat Notre Dame in theFiesta Bowl and finished No. 4 in the final Associated Press poll.
Coach Dennis Erickson had trouble explaining the slow start, but saiddefense is one area of concern.
'We don't know what's wrong with our `D,'' a noticeably frustratedErickson said. 'We need to look at the film and evaluate what went wrong. Theybattered at us really well but we held on.'
Erickson found some good in his offense, which finished with 420 totalyards.
'We performed a lot better in the second half,' he said. 'We ran the ballwell and made some plays in the passing game.'
Simonton, who was held to 42 yards last week by Fresno State, had 121 yardsin the second half.
'I always want the ball,' said Simonton, who had 34 carries. 'Maybe I'm alittle greedy, but I want the pressure.'
Simonton said he didn't care about the final score.
'A win is a win, no matter how you get it,' he said.
New Mexico State coach Tony Samuel and his players found no satisfaction inthe close loss.
'We played well, but the last time I checked we're trying to win games andthat's the bottom line,' Samuel said. 'They did a good job of misdirectionand slowing down our running attack and forced us to throw the ball.'
'It's not a time to talk about moral victories,' said defensive backSideeq Shabazz, who had 19 tackles and blocked a field-goal attempt. 'Weshould have won that game and there is no consolation in staying close.'
Kenton Keith's 2-yard run and a 31-yard pass from K.C. Enzminger to ManwellTalbert, both in the fourth quarter, rallied the Aggies from a 24-9 deficit.Keith's score was set up by a pass- interference call on Oregon State's D.J.Coote in the end zone on a fourth-and-18 play.
Oregon State took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter on Simonton's 1-yard runand a 23-yard run by Patrick McCall, but the Beavers repeatedly hurt themselveswith mistakes, picking up 90 yards in penalties in the first half and 135 forthe game.
The Aggies, playing their only home game during the first seven weeks of theseason, cut it to 14-9 at halftime on a 26-yard field goal by Dario Aguinagaand Keith's 1-yard run.
After Aguinaga's field goal, New Mexico State's Tyrone Gifford interceptedJonathan Smith's pass at the Aggies 43. From there, Enzminger and tailbackWalter Taylor picked apart the Oregon State defense with option plays.
Simonton's first TD was set up by the passing of Smith, who completed passesof 11 yards to Tim Euhus and 15 and 23 yards to James Newson in the drive.Smith's first pass to Newson, on third-and-10, bounced off two defenders andinto Newson's hands at the Aggies' 23.
Two plays later, Smith found Newson open over the middle to the 1. On thenext play, Simonton leaped over a pile of defenders.
The Beavers scored again after New Mexico State came up empty on a fakefield goal attempt. The Aggies drove to the Oregon State 3-yard line before theBeavers held and backup quarterback Buck Pierce's pass off the fake field-goalattempt dropped short of the intended receiver. Oregon State then went 97 yards on seven plays. Smith hit Euhus with a33-yard pass to the Aggies' 23, and on the next play, McCall scored.
Smith was 16-for-27 for 207 yards. Euhus had six catches for 91 yards.