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Versatile Jack Colletto helps Oregon State dominate Las Vegas Bowl

Updated December 17, 2022 - 5:30 pm

Oregon State got big contributions from all three phases in a 30-3 dismantling of Florida in Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl at Allegiant Stadium.

And that was just from redshirt senior star Jack Colletto in his final collegiate game.

Colletto blocked a punt, recorded four tackles on defense, served as a lead blocker in key short-yardage situations and ran the ball twice for 17 yards, including an 11-yard scamper on a fake punt in the third quarter.

“All three phases this guy is contributing,” Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said. “He gets his hand on the punt block, the run on the fake punt was huge on the first drive of the second half to continue the drive and we get up 17 and get some separation, lead blocking gets us a first down, carrying the ball at quarterback. He’s got tackles not only on defense, but special teams.

“We’re going to have to replace him with three or four guys.”

Oregon State (10-3) converted the fake punt and blocked punt into third-quarter touchdowns as the 17th-ranked Beavers pulled away from the short-handed Gators (6-7).

“All year we’ve been really sound on special teams, and that’s really changed the course of a few games for us,” said Colletto, who was named the 2022 Paul Hornung Award winner this week as the nation’s most versatile player. “We knew in a big game like this, that was going to be very important, so there was a lot of attention and focus throughout the week to get that done.”

The victory gave Oregon State its first 10-win season since 2006 just five seasons after the Beavers went 2-10 in Smith and Colletto’s first season with the program.

“You just think back on all the work that has taken place to get to this point,” said Colletto, who came to Oregon State as a quarterback before moving to defense in his second season in the program. “When I got here in 2018, we couldn’t win a game to save our lives. To go from a record like that to completely changing the program and flipping it on its head and then to finish it the right way like we did this week, there’s just no better feeling.”

Colletto, known to Oregon State fans as “The Jackhammer,” helped lead a defense Saturday that held Florida under 100 yards through three quarters.

The Gators, playing without quarterback Anthony Richardson and several other starters, scored their only points of the game on an Adam Mihalek 40-yard field goal with 42 seconds remaining. Those three points extended Florida’s streak of not being shut out to an NCAA-high 436 consecutive games.

“We can feel any type of way we want about it,” Oregon State senior defensive back Jaydon Grant said. “But at the end of the day, we let them get all the way down the field. You can be mad because they took the points or whatever, or you can look in the mirror and say we shouldn’t have let them get in that position. We really wanted the shutout, but at the end of the day, 30-3 isn’t bad.”

The Gators finished with 219 total yards and a losing record in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1978-79.

Florida fell behind early when Bishop Gorman alum Tyjon Lindsey got Oregon State on the board by scoring on a reverse from eight yards out in the first quarter for the Beavers, who racked up 353 yards of offense.

Deshaun Fenwick ran for 107 yards, and Silas Bolden had six catches for 99 yards and a touchdown in the win.

Ben Gulbranson, one of two quarterbacks the Beavers used Saturday, managed the game well on his way to a 12-for-19 day as a passer for 165 yards and a touchdown to win the Las Vegas Bowl MVP award.

That could have gone to any number of players for Oregon State. Smith said it felt like the Beavers’ best overall performance of the season.

“Defensively, obviously an awesome effort,” he said. “Offensively we did some really good things to get points on the board and got contributions from special teams. So it did feel pretty complete.”

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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Bowl betting trends: Oregon State gets edge in Las Vegas Bowl

Las Vegas handicapper Bruce Marshall is editor of The Gold Sheet (Goldsheet.com). He provides the Review-Journal with college football tech notes and trends.