By GARY HOROWITZ
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — DJ Uiagalelei passed for 284 yards and a touchdown, ran for a touchdown for the third consecutive game, and 16th-ranked Oregon State’s defense had six sacks in a 26-9 win over San Diego State on Saturday.
In his third game as the Beavers’ starting quarterback after transferring from Clemson, Uiagalelei completed 14 of 30 passes and had two interceptions.
Damien Martinez anchored Oregon State’s running game with 102 yards.
The Beavers (3-0) kept the Aztecs out of the end zone until the fourth quarter.
It was the first time this season that Oregon State needed to secure a victory that late.
“I think our guys know these games are going to get more and more difficult,” Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said. “They’re going to be closer, tighter throughout. Not just for a one-half type of thing.”
San Diego State running back Jaylon Armstead scored on a 6-yard run with 9:01 remaining. The 2-point conversion pass failed and Oregon State maintained a two-score lead at 19-9.
The Beavers responded when receiver Anthony Gould turned Uiagalelei’s short pass into a 75-yard touchdown and a 26-9 advantage.
“I think it just comes down to executing,” Gould said. “(Wide receiver Jeremiah) Noga had an amazing block. That play doesn’t get started without him.”
The Aztecs (2-2) weren’t finished.
Quarterback Jalen Mayden led a drive inside the Beavers’ 10-yard line, but safety Akili Arnold’s interception in the end zone at the 5:40 mark helped seal Oregon State’s victory.
“It was big,” Arnold said of the defensive stand. “I think as a unit we played lights out. It’s not all about me making that pick at the end. It’s about the front, the backers, the underneath coverage. With their help, it helped me make a play.”
Oregon State had 475 total yards to 326 for the Aztecs, who were limited to 70 yards on the ground primarily due to a negative 50 yards in sacks. Mayden was 20 of 32 for 256 yards and an interception.
“There’s no doubt it’s very similar to last week (vs. UCLA),” San Diego State coach Brady Hoke said. “We had some momentum and that’s the thing that stinks. We were moving the ball. We get in the red zone and we don’t get anything out of it. We’ve got to do a better job.”
Wide receiver Silas Bolden came up big on an 84-yard scoring drive that extended the Beavers lead to 19-3 at 7:40 of the third quarter. He caught a 31-yard pass, ran 18 yards on the next play on a fly sweep to the 1, setting up Uiagalelei’s 1-yard touchdown run.
A 31-yard pass to tight end Jack Velling and a 35-yard strike to wide receiver Rhewa Munyagi Jr. set up the game’s first touchdown midway through the second quarter.
Uiagalelei tossed a backward pass to left tackle Joshua Gray, who scored untouched from the 3-yard line to make it 12-0. It was the first rushing touchdown by an Oregon State offensive lineman since 1996. Gray said the last time he scored a touchdown was during middle school in a flag football game.
Jack Browning kicked a 52-yard field goal for the Aztecs with 44 seconds left in the second quarter to make it 12-3 at halftime.
Uiagalelei’s early fourth-quarter interception was the Beavers’ first turnover of the season.
The Beavers have won seven games in a row for the first time since the 2000 season. That team went 11-1, defeated Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, and finished No. 4 in the final Associated Press poll.
Oregon State and San Diego State had not met since playing in consecutive seasons in 2013 and 2014.
Sixth-year San Diego State coach Brady Hoke is familiar with playing games in Corvallis. He was an assistant coach for the Beavers from 1989-94 when Oregon State home games were played at then-Parker Stadium, which had a name change in 1999 to Reser Stadium.
San Diego State: After being dominated at home last week by UCLA, the Aztecs were competitive in their first road game of the season. The defense played well enough to stay in the game, but not enough offensive consistency took away any hope for an upset.
Oregon State: For the first time this season the Beavers were challenged for four quarters, and that should be good experience heading into the Pac-12 schedule. The defense and running game have been Oregon State’s strengths thus far. Uiagalelei is still finding his way operating a new offense.
Oregon State likely will hold steady in next week’s rankings.
San Diego State: Hosts Boise State on Friday.
Oregon State: At No. 23 Washington State on Saturday, Sept. 23 in the Beavers’ Pac-12 opener.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll