CORVALLIS, Ore. — Oregon State coach Mike Riley shrugged when asked whether Saturday's overtime loss to Sacramento State was one of the worst of his career with the Beavers.
"I don't know," he said. "I don't feel like ranking them today."
The Beavers were stunned at home in their opener Saturday by the Big Sky's Hornets, who went for two points after a touchdown in OT for the final 29-28 edge. Oregon State had not lost a home opener since 2001.
The game-winning touchdown capped a crazy game that saw the Beavers fall behind early, then rally behind true freshman running back Malcolm Agnew to send the game to overtime.
Agnew, who emerged as the heir apparent to departed Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers, ran for 223 yards and three touchdowns. He is the first true freshman to start the position in Oregon State history. His rushing yards were the ninth-highest in a single game for Oregon State.
"I feel like I had a good game," said Agnew, son of 11-year NFL veteran Ray Agnew. "It just wasn't good enough. We didn't win."
With the game tied at 21 at the end of regulation, Agnew put the Beavers ahead with a 17-yeard touchdown run. But Sac State quarterback Jeff Fleming countered with a 4-yard scoring pass to Brandyn Reed and followed with the conversion to win it, sending all of the Hornets onto the field in celebration.
Sac State, which went 6-5 last season in the Big Sky, had never defeated a team from the upper division Pac-10, now the Pac-12 with the addition of Colorado and Utah this season. Last season the Hornets fell 52-17 in its opener against Stanford.
Fleming completed 22 of 35 passes for 257 yards and three scores for Sac State, which before Saturday was 0-10 against upper division opponents since 2002. Chase Daedder caught six passes for 61 yards and two scores.
"It means a lot," Reed said about the win. "We put in so much work, and we've been preaching it all spring and summer. There's so much determination and opportunities to take advantage of, and this was one of them."
Agnew's 4-yard scoring run with 8:08 left in regulation tied it. On the Hornets' ensuing drive, Oregon State's Sean Martin recovered a fumble that gave the ball back to the Beavers.
But the Hornets returned the favor on Oregon State's possession when free safety Joe Larche returned a fumble 58 yards to the Oregon State 28. Sac State got to the 11-yard line but Jason Diniz's flubbed field goal was blocked and the ball went back to the Beavers with just over two minutes left.
Oregon State marched downfield, but the drive ended when true freshman Kevin Romaine's 27-yard field goal hit the right upright to send the game into OT.
Because of injuries and attrition, the Beavers played seven true freshmen in the game, most ever since 1997, when they played seven true frosh for the entire season.
Romaine hit his first career field goal, a 29-yarder, in the first quarter to give the Beavers an early 3-0 lead. But the Hornets answered with a scoring drive that ended when Fleming hit Deadder with a 19-yeard scoring pass to make it 7-3.
Sacramento State extended the lead to 14-3 with 2:39 left in the first half when Fleming found Daedder in the end zone again with a 4-yard pass.
There were boos at Reser Stadium when the teams left the field for halftime.
Oregon quarterback Ryan Katz did not start the second half after completing 11 of 22 passes for 87 yards. He was intercepted once and sacked twice. He was replaced by redshirt freshman Sean Mannion.
Katz, who had surgery in the offseason after breaking a bone in his wrist in the season finale against rival Oregon, did not appear to be injured. He was standing on the sideline to start the second half with his helmet on.
Afterward, coach Riley said the switch was pre-planned.
"We were going to get him (Mannion) into the game at some point. We were going to do it in the second quarter, but we thought we better stay with Ryan Katz, try to get something going," Riley said.
Mannion completed 12 passes for 143 yards.
Romaine hit a 45-yard field goal to narrow it for the Beavers early in the third quarter. But the defense couldn't seem to figure out the Hornets and Sacramento State scored again on wide receiver Morris Norrise's 39-yard pass to Reed.
Agnew's 1-yard run made it 21-13 with 12:44 left in the game.
Riley ticked off the mistakes in the game and said it all snowballed.
"All those things, you start pressing, you get nervous. And that's what we did," he said.
The Beavers were hobbled going into the game. Most notable among the absences was senior flanker James Rodgers, known for his proficiency in pulling off Oregon State's trademark fly sweep, who is rehabbing from two knee surgeries.
Tight end Joe Halahuni and cornerback Brandon Hardin both had shoulder injuries and weren't available. Also out was defensive tackle Kevin Frahm (knee). Defensive tackle Dominic Glover was still awaiting word on his academic eligibility, but looked doubtful for the opener.
The Beavers were also adjusting after the departure of prolific running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who left Oregon State a year early to go to the NFL. He now plays for the Atlanta Falcons.
In contrast to the Beavers, the Hornets entered the season mostly injury-free. Fleming had surgery on his throwing elbow after last season, but certainly appeared fully recovered.
The two teams had met once before, in the 2003 opener, which the Beavers won 40-7.