Woodward, Okla. —
By Jason Elmquist
CNHI News Service
LAWRENCE, Kan. — With redshirt freshman quarterback J.W. Walsh making his second straight start of the season, the Oklahoma State University football team overcomes a slow start on the road, a rain delay, injuries at the receiver position and a furious late-game rally to come away with a 20-14 victory over the University of Kansas.
“It’s difficult when you have all those things happen in one game,” said Walsh, who went 18 for 29 with 255 yards passing along with 49 yards rushing. “You pile them on and it’s hard to overcome all those things. ... So we’re going to walk away from this win very happy. If you still win after the way the game was playing out, you should be excited because you know you’ve got some talented guys who can step up and make plays and guys who can face adversity and overcome it.”
The game was delayed for an hour and 19 minutes due to a thunderstorm that moved through the area. The delay came with 44 seconds left in the first quarter with the game scoreless — thanks to both teams failing to convert fourth-down plays deep in the opposing team’s territory.
“Until the delay, we were somewhat limited to do what benefits our offense,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “... It helped us today because they had a nice running scheme and we were able to make that adjustment. When we came back out after the delay, we were more effective stopping the run.”
The wet conditions made it difficult on the passing game, which forced OSU to turn to the running attack — which played right into KU’s game plan. The Jayhawks were able to limit Oklahoma State’s big threat back, Joseph Randle, who finished with 80 yards on 29 carries for an average of 2.8 yards per rush.
“With the conditions you’ve got to just nickel and dime it,” Randle said. “Sometimes the big run’s not there, so you’ve just got to take those hard-earned yards.”
Oklahoma State avoided going down early in the second quarter. After Walsh threw an interception — in which he overthrew an open Josh Stewart — to set Kansas up at the OSU 27-yard line, the Cowboy defense held the Jayhawks to a turnover on downs. It was the fourth, fourth-down try of the game with none of them being converted.
After OSU went 3-and-out, Quinn Sharp kicked a booming 70-yard punt that pinned KU inside their own 10 to shift the field position back in OSU’s favor.
“I was definitely trying to hit a big ball and flip the field,” said Sharp, who also booted a 72-yard punt later in the game. “... You want to make them drive as far as possible, because the longer they have to drive the harder it is for them to progress.”
The punt would prove to be big as KU had to punt from its own end zone and the Pokes got the ball back at midfield — and promptly scored the first points of the game on a six-play drive capped by a 4-yard TD run by Walsh.
Charlie Moore got OSU back on the board in the third quarter when he caught the ball just past the line scrimmage, broke a tackle and raced up the sideline for a 72-yard touchdown — OSU’s longest play of the season from scrimmage. It was his first touchdown since scoring against Tulsa last season in garbage time.
“It was just a base play in our system. ... Josh Stewart made a great block on the other side of the field and Charlie is really fast when he gets going,” Gundy said. “He is strong, so once he got out there I was sure they would have a hard time catching him.”
Kansas attempted to make a late comeback behind backup freshman quarterback Michael Cummings, who came in for starter Dayne Crist in the fourth quarter as a change of pace. Cummings put together KU’s first scoring drive early in the fourth by completing 3 of 4 pass attempts for 41 yards — capped with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jimmay Munine.
“They were running the same plays we had been working on for two weeks. So we knew the looks but (Cummings) did a great job coming in and making big plays,” said OSU defensive end Nigel Nicholas, who had seven tackles and a sack.
On KU’s next drive the Jayhawks cut the lead to 20-14 with a two-play, 73 yard drive that took just 42 seconds to score. Aided by a 15-yard face mask penalty, KU got a 28- and 30-yard rush by running back James Sims — the second going for a touchdown.
Kansas had another shot in the final minutes of the game to claim the lead, but OSU's defense came up with a big fourth-down play in OSU territory to force the turnover and help milk the clock.
Oklahoma State will now turn its attention to Iowa State and Homecoming on Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Cowboy notes: True freshman quarterback Wes Lunt suited up and participated in pre-game warmups, but did not see any action.
Gundy said Lunt could have played in the game had they felt they needed him.
“We could have played Wes if we thought we needed him,” Gundy said. “Wes is a young football player, he’s got a long career ahead of him. And we want to put him out there when he’s ready to go. If he would have been out there today, he would have had some limitation just based on the recovery from his injury.”
The victory for Gundy pulled him into a tie with former OSU football coach Pat Jones for the most wins in program history at 62 victories.
The 20 points scored by OSU broke an NCAA-record-tying streak of 22 consecutive games with 30 or more points scored. The Cowboys were shutout in the first quarter, marking just the second quarter this year in which OSU did not score.
Jason Elmquist is the sports editor of the Stillwater NewsPress.