Woodward, Okla. —
By Jason Elmquist
CNHI News Service
LUBBOCK, Texas — No lead is safe when an opponent runs a mirror image of your explosive offense.
Texas Tech tried to prove that twice Saturday in front of a record crowd at Jones AT&T Stadium, but Oklahoma State held off the second surge to come away with a huge 52-34 victory in Big 12 Conference play.
“Lubbock is a hard place to play, they’ve got a great crowd and it can really get loud and momentum can build real easy,” OSU linebacker Caleb Lavey said. “But the good thing is we have (an experienced) offense and defense, that does a good job at staying composed and not getting out of our element. We did a good job at staying composed out there.”
The 18th-ranked Oklahoma State squad shocked a crowd of nearly 62,000 by scoring the first 21 points of the contest, but Texas Tech dug its way out of the hole before halftime.
After the two teams traded punts on their first drives of the game, the Cowboys put together a 10-play, 84-yard drive with Tracy Moore hauling in a 6-yard touchdown catch — despite defensive pass interference on the senior receiver.
Oklahoma State (7-1, 4-1 in Big 12) then got contributions from both the defense and special teams to put the Pokes up by 21 before the first quarter was even over.
On Texas Tech’s ensuing drive following the OSU touchdown, the defense forced a fumble near midfield, allowing the Cowboys to go 45 yards on a three plays, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Desmond Roland.
Oklahoma State forced the Red Raiders (7-2, 4-2 in Big 12) to punt on their next drive, which is when the special teams stepped it up. Derek Branson came off the edge and blocked the punt. He eventually recovered the ball at the Texas Tech 15-yard line. Four plays later, Roland ran it in from 1 yard out again.
Texas Tech began its first-half comeback with back-to-back scoring drives — capped with a 32-yard field goal and 38-yard touchdown from Davis Webb to Eric Ward. OSU responded with an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive with Clint Chelf connecting with Jeremy Seaton a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
The Red Raiders regained the momentum for the remainder of the half with Pete Robertson picking off Chelf, who made his second straight start since taking over for quarterback against TCU, and returning it 21 yards for a touchdown. Texas Tech’s next offensive drive put another seven on the scoreboard to cut the Cowboys’ lead to 28-24 at halftime.
However, whatever momentum the Red Raiders did have, quickly went out the window in the second half.
Josh Stewart had something to do with that, thanks to a 46-yard punt return that put the Pokes at the TTU 11-yard line.
Going for it on fourth-and-short once again, Roland scampered in for a 3-yard touchdown.
“That was really big. ... After we scored, we felt that we really settled down their crowd because at halftime they had the momentum,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “We jumped up and then they got 24 to our seven and had the momentum going in. ... So that was big for us to establish (momentum) coming out of the half.”
Oklahoma State surged ahead 42-24 with its third scoring drive to take less than a minute. On a third-and-9 at its own 33-yard line, OSU called for a quarterback draw up the middle, which led to a 67-yard touchdown run by Chelf.
Texas Tech tried to battle back once again, though.
Late in the third, the Red Raider defense picked off Chelf, who was not made available to the media following the victory, for the second time in the game to end an OSU drive in Texas Tech territory, though he prevented the interception from going back for a touchdown. TTU took advantage, going six plays, 55 yards for a touchdown to cut it to 42-31.
Oklahoma State responded, however, with a nine-play, 75-yard drive with Chelf picking up his second rushing touchdown of the game with an 8-yard run off the edge.
The Red Raiders put together another lengthy drive in an attempt to keep pace, but Cowboy defense held up in the red zone and Texas Tech had to settle for a field goal to make it 49-34 with just over 13 minutes remaining. OSU would match it on the ensuing drive with freshman kicker Ben Grogan getting a 41-yard field goal to bang off the inside of the left upright and in to push it back to a three-possession game.
Texas Tech tried to climb back in the final five minutes, but the Cowboy defense came away with a goal-line stand to force a turnover on downs and the Cowboys took over with 4:05 left in the contest at its own 2-yard line.
After milking a minute off the clock and punting it back to Texas Tech, the Red Raiders tried to move the ball down 49 yards, but failed to a convert a fourth-and-long to give the Cowboys the ball back to run out the final 51 seconds.
Oklahoma State finished with 286 yards rushing, led by Roland with 96 and Chelf with 88. The Cowboy quarterback also went 18 of 34 passing with 211 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions with Jhajuan Seals leading the Cowboy receivers with 78 yards on three catches.
OSU’s defense held the Red Raiders to just 124 yards rushing, while Texas Tech’s freshman quarterback Davis Webb gashed the Cowboys for 45 of 71 with 425 yards passing, two touchdowns and two interceptions. His top target was Jace Amaro, who hauled in 15 catches for 174 yards and a touchdown.
The Cowboys will return home for the first time in three weeks with a 3 p.m. kickoff Saturday against Big 12 Conference cell-dweller Kansas at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Jason Elmquist is the sports editor for the Stillwater NewsPress