Cowboys Overcome Mistakes, Defeat Mountaineers
MORGANTOWN – Mike Gundy’s Oklahoma State football team has made plenty of mistakes this season, particularly on special teams, but what happened Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium against West Virginia stretched the coach’s suspension of disbelief to its limits.
The No. 11 Cowboys (7-1, 4-1) turned the ball over four times – three fumbles and an interception — had a punt blocked, missed an extra, wasted another scoring opportunity on a botched hold on a field goal attempt and booted a late kickoff out of bounds. Despite the calamity, OSU still left Morgantown with a 50-39 win over the No. 22 Mountaineers (5-3, 3-2).
When a reporter asked Gundy what he’d have thought if someone had told him before the game that his team would suffer those myriad mistakes and still collect a Big 12 road win, he replied:
“I would have said they were drinking, heavy.” After a pause he added, “And I would have wished I’d been with them drinking, heavy.”
The Cowboys appeared to have the game salted away in the third quarter with a 30-10 lead when WVU lightning struck. Reserve safety Osman Kamara snuffed Zach Sinor’s punt and teammate Marvin Gross fell on the ball in the end zone for a WVU touchdown. Two plays later, OSU quarterback Mason Rudolph, who was struggling to escape pressure, made the unwise decision to try to make a play instead of taking a sack or throwing the ball away. Rudolph’s pass landed right in the hands of WVU freshman corner Kenny Robinson who returned it 39 yards for another score. With 3:01 left to play in the third quarter, the Mountaineers, who looked dead in the water, were within one score, 30-24.
‘The punt was blocked because the punter held the ball too long,” Gundy said. He reviewed some of the other miscues but concluded, “I have to minimize what we do in order to accomplish a little bit each week. We get two days a week to prepare (on special teams), so we need to try to be as sound as possible in those areas.”
Fortunately for the Cowboys, WVU proved to be just as generous as quarterback Will Grier threw four interceptions and Justin Crawford fumbled. Justice Hill gave OSU a 37-24 lead with a 5-yard run with 10:38 to play, and on the ensuing possession, A.J. Green grabbed his second pick of the day and returned it 58 yards, setting up another score for the Cowboys.
Saturday marked the end of several of the Mountaineers’ impressive offensive streaks. Grier was held to his first sub-300-yard game passing in seven appearances and David Sills, who led the nation with 15 touchdown receptions was held without a score.
WVU entered the game ranked fifth nationally with an average of 539.4 yards per game but was held to 347, including 155 on its last two possessions of the game.
Still, Gundy has much to think about and work on as his team prepares to meet Oklahoma Nov. 4.
“We got a win but we’re making way too many mistakes,” he said. “(We’re) very fortunate to get out of here. (I’m) thrilled with the way our team overcomes adversity; we had our backs to the wall after two non-offensive touchdowns. Our guys came back and made some plays.”