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Oregon State again sloppy, but escapes with win

9/9/2001

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) -- Oregon State got the win, but the Beavers (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) still don't look like the team that finished last season as one of the best in the country.

Ken Simonton scored two touchdowns and ran for 169 yards as
Oregon State bounced back from a season-opening loss to beat lowly
New Mexico State 27-22 Saturday night.

Simonton, the Beavers' career rushing leader with 4,284 yards,
scored on a pair of 1-yard runs as Oregon State dodged the upset
against a school that has had just three winning seasons since
1967.

The Beavers (1-1) lost 44-24 to Fresno State (No. 19 AP) last week
and didn't put away the Aggies (0-3) until Mitch Meeuwsen recovered
an onside kick with 1:26 left.

It was another sluggish performance by the penalty-plagued
Beavers, who went 11-1 last season, won a share of the Pac-10
title, beat Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl and finished No. 4 in the
final Associated Press poll.

Coach Dennis Erickson had trouble explaining the slow start, but
said defense is one area of concern.

"We don't know what's wrong with our `D,"' a noticeably
frustrated Erickson said. "We need to look at the film and
evaluate what went wrong. They battered at us really well but we
held on."

Erickson found some good in his offense, which finished with 420
total yards.

"We performed a lot better in the second half," he said. "We
ran the ball well and made some plays in the passing game."

Simonton, who was held to 42 yards last week by Fresno State,
had 121 yards in the second half.

"I always want the ball," said Simonton, who had 34 carries.
"Maybe I'm a little 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 in the close loss.

"We played well, but the last time I checked we're trying to
win games and that's the bottom line," Samuel said. "They did a
good job of misdirection and slowing down our running attack and
forced us to throw the ball."

"It's not a time to talk about moral victories," said
defensive back Sideeq Shabazz, who had 19 tackles and blocked a
field-goal attempt. "We should 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 Manwell Talbert, 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 run and a 23-yard run by Patrick McCall, but the
Beavers repeatedly hurt themselves with mistakes, picking up 90
yards in penalties in the first half and 135 for the game.

The Aggies, playing their only home game during the first seven
weeks of the season, cut it to 14-9 at halftime on a 26-yard field
goal by Dario Aguinaga and Keith's 1-yard run.

After Aguinaga's field goal, New Mexico State's Tyrone Gifford
intercepted Jonathan Smith's pass at the Aggies 43. From there,
Enzminger and tailback Walter Taylor picked apart the Oregon State
defense with option plays.

Simonton's first TD was set up by the passing of Smith, who
completed passes of 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 and into Newson's hands at
the Aggies' 23.

Two plays later, Smith found Newson open over the middle to the
1. On the next play, Simonton leaped over a pile of defenders.

The Beavers scored again after New Mexico State came up empty on
a fake field goal attempt. The Aggies drove to the Oregon State
3-yard line before the Beavers held and backup quarterback Buck
Pierce's pass off the fake field-goal attempt dropped short of the
intended receiver. Oregon State then went 97 yards on seven plays. Smith hit Euhus
with a 33-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.