SALT LAKE CITY — Oregon State entered Saturday night’s Pac-12 game at Utah severely shorthanded on the offensive side of the ball.
The Beavers were without their starting quarterback, Tristan Gebbia, and star running back Jermar Jefferson.
Saturday’s contest was billed as a matchup between Utah’s strong rush defense against Jefferson, one of the nation’s top rushers, but Jefferson didn’t make the trip to Rice-Eccles Stadium due to COVID-19 issues, as announced by the program prior to kickoff.
Utah came into the night ranked No. 1 in the Pac-12 and No. 7 in the FBS in rushing yards allowed at 90.5 yards per game.
Jefferson, a 5-foot-10 junior, ran for 226 yards and two touchdowns against Oregon last week.
In four games this season, Jefferson has run 91 times for 675 yards — averaging 7.4 yards per carry — and seven TDs.
He ran 239 times for 1,380 yards, averaging 5.8 yards per carry, and 12 touchdowns as a freshman in 2018. In an injury-shortened sophomore season, he had 142 carries for 685 yards and eight touchdowns.
BJ Baylor, who replaced Jefferson in the lineup, gained 19 yards on three carries at halftime Saturday. Oregon State’s longest run of the first half came on a 40-yard run by backup linebacker Jack Colletto out of the Wildcat.
At halftime, OSU had 85 rushing yards and 146 yards of total offense.
Gebbia, who threw for 263 yards and one touchdown in OSU’s upset of Oregon last week, left that game with 33 seconds remaining due to an injury. He reportedly suffered a hyper-extension of his leg.
On Saturday, Gebbia was replaced by sophomore Chance Nolan, who completed 7 of 12 passes for 61 yards and an interception in the first half. He also ran four times for 24 yards.
Utah led OSU at halftime, 16-10.
One bright spot for Utah in the first half was wide receiver Britain Covey, who made his first catch of the season on Utah’s first drive for 24 yards.
In the first half, Covey, who has been sidelined, or limited due to a hamstring injury, caught three passes for 46 yards, and he ran twice for 7 yards.
“He’s fearless and courageous. We hope his role is expanded this week and he’s able to do a lot more on offense,” coach Kyle Whittingham said during the week. “That remains to be seen. We’re a better football team when he’s in the lineup, I can tell you that, because he’s a playmaker.”