By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
It was a reversal of roles Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium between Texas, smash-mouth offense, and Oklahoma State, finesse passing attack.
It was the Longhorns that took to the air, while the Pokes pounded it out on the ground. In the end, it was Texas that was effective enough to come away with a 41-36 victory to keep OSU from beating the Longhorns in Stillwater for the first time since 1997.
Oklahoma State was in the position to claim victory, but a late drive that resulted in just a field goal left too much time for Texas to put together a game-winning drive that left OSU with just 29 seconds to rally.
"A team's ability to finish games is unique and sometimes you really don't know why," OSU coach Mike Gundy said. "But I have no doubt this team will find a way to finish off successfully."
In his first collegiate start, OSU quarterback J.W. Walsh completed 18 of 27 pass attempts for 207 yards and two touchdowns, but with 29 seconds left in the game was unable to deliver a game-winning drive for the Cowboys. Walsh also had 57 yards rushing on eight carries.
Coming in, Texas was second in the Big 12 in rushing with 258.7 yards per game, but the Longhorns were held in check by the Cowboys with 131 rushing yards. Texas didn't break the 100-yard mark until the middle of the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the UT pass attack, which was seventh in the conference with 255.7 yards per game finished with 304 yards.
It appeared the game would be a shootout from the onset. On the second play from scrimmage, OSU running back Joseph Randle ripped off a 69-yard touchdown run, breaking several tackles in the process.
Texas bounced back with a 10-play, 75-yard drive — in which the Longhorns barely converted on three third down plays. The drive was capped with a 44-yard touchdown pass from David Ash to Jaxon Shipley.
Walsh threw an interception on his third pass attempt of the game. He tried to get a quick pass off to Blake Jackson, but Texas defender Kenny Vaccaro stepped in to pick off the pass and give the Longhorns the ball at OSU's 23-yard line. Oklahoma State's defense forced the Longhorns into another third down, but Texas converted its fourth straight of the game with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Ash to Shipley to take the 14-7 lead.
Following Walsh's miscue, the OSU offense turned to the ground and the short, intermediate passing game, which seemed to lull the Texas defense to sleep. OSU's first shot down the field went to Josh Stewart, Walsh's high school teammate, who bounced off a UT defender and ran into the end zone for a 44-yard touchdown.
Texas took no time at all to take the lead back, as D.J. Monroe returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. It was the first kickoff return for a touchdown given up by OSU since last year's Texas game.
OSU's next drive stalled in the red zone and the Cowboys settled for a 23-yard field goal by Quinn Sharp early into the second quarter.
Both offenses struggled in the second quarter. Texas punted on each of its second quarter drives, while OSU had a punt and missed 53-yard field goal attempt on their final two drives of the second quarter.
The Oklahoma State defense got its first takeaway since the season opener against Savannah State with an interception by Tyler Johnson — the first pick thrown by Ash this season — on a third down play deep in Cowboy territory.
The OSU offense took the momentum and charged down the field for a 38-yard field goal by Sharp, with senior receiver Tracy Moore leading the way with three catches 69 yards on the drive.
The turnover for Texas was a rare miscue for the Longhorns on third downs. The Longhorns went 9 for 17 on third down plays, including 6 of 9 in the first half. The Longhorns also converted on three fourth day conversions — including a fourth and six at their own 29-yard line to set up the game-winning touchdown.
Texas got going again late in the third quarter, putting together a six-minute drive that was capped by a seven-yard touchdown from Ash to Shipley.
The Cowboys responded quickly behind a 36-yard kickoff return by Desmond Roland that put OSU at Texas' 43-yard line — and just 24 seconds later the Cowboys scored on a 20-yard pass from Walsh to John Goodlett. The ensuing 2-point try failed as Walsh overthrew his intended receiver on the fade into the corner.
Oklahoma State's defense bowed its back on the ensuing drive, forcing Texas to punt for the fourth time. The OSU offense opened its drive with a 50-yard rush by Walsh to get the Cowboys down to the Texas 39-yard line. Randle got a big 20-yard gain on a third-and-six play that put the Pokes down at the UT 2-yard line — and Randle, who had 199 yards on 25 carries, capped it with his second touchdown run on the next play.
After Texas responded with a touchdown drive of its own to take the lead back, the Cowboys drove 50 yards to the Longhorn 11-yard line, but three straight rushing plays by OSU gained only 2 yards each and OSU would settle for a 24-yard Sharp field goal to take a 36-34 lead.
"At the end instead of getting a touchdown we get a field goal because I'm soft," OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. "You've got to find a way to win the game, not kick a field goal.
"... You remember some of the things in the red zone that you just didn't do well enough — some of the throws, some of the calls that give you a chance to score touchdowns. We'd been really good in that regard and we ended up trying four field goals tonight, which is uncharacteristic of us."
With 2:34 still left, Texas put together an eight-play, 75-yard drive in just over two minutes to reclaim the lead at 41-36 with 29 seconds left in the game.
"Our most experienced unit is our defense, so you would think when they got in that situation they would have been able to stop them," Gundy said.
On the drive, Texas had two pass plays of over 25 yards — a 29-yard gain on a fourth and six play, and a 32-yard catch that put the Longhorns at the OSU 5-yard line. They would score two plays later to get the come from behind victory.
"That one drive they knocked us around a little bit and I was kind of disappointed," Gundy said. "I was very proud of our team prior to that when stopping the run."