But Cowboys fans were anxious to see what Garman could do on Saturday night at Boone Pickens Stadium. Although he only completed 16 of 30 passes, he threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns without turning the ball over in their final non-conference game before opening Big 12 play against Texas Tech on Thursday, Sept. 25.
“He settled on his own,” OSU head coach Mike Gundy said. “You would have liked for him to complete the first swing pass to Tyreek (Hill), and when he threw that one poorly, that didn’t help. He settled himself down. He was fine.”
But Gundy was impressed with the Cowboys defense, which recorded nine tackles for loss, including three sacks.
“Defensively, I thought our players competed for the most part,” Gundy said. “We tackled really well. We were physical. They took that challenge and played physical. We had three missed assignments on the one drive where [UTSA] scored in the second half. Other than that, I thought they were the key to the game.
“They tackled and were able to stop the running game. UTSA averaged two yards per snap running the football. That made a big difference.”
A year ago, the Roadrunners piled up 504 total yards and scored 35 points (although 28 of them came in the fourth quarter after the Cowboys were up 42-7). But defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer challenged his team not to let that happen Saturday night.
“We just won a great game,” said Spencer. “Turnovers weren’t there, but the kids just played a hell of a ball game. They got off the field so many times. They did great agains the run. They played physical and had a lot of great tackles.”
The Cowboys sputtered out of the gates with Garman throwing incompletions on his first four passes. But after taking a 3-0 lead on Sean Ianno’s 24-yard field goal, the Roadrunners provided the Cowboys with plenty of help on their second drive of the game.
A pass interference penalty on a third-and-six play resulted in a Cowboys first down, and then Tyreek Hill was stopped after a four-yard gain on a third-and-25 play from USTA’s 32. It would have forced the Cowboys to attempt a 44-yard field goal. But a personal foul penalty on UTSA defensive end Jason Neill after the play gave OSU new hope with a first down at the 14.
Four plays later Desmond Roland punched it in for a 1-yard touchdown to give the Cowboys a 7-0 lead.
That 12-play, 75-yard drive opened the floodgates.
Garman and the Cowboys offense took over on their own 17 after the defense forced a three-and-out on UTSA’s next possession. It took just five plays for the Cowboys to go 83 yards for the touchdown, with Garman placing a perfectly thrown ball into freshman wide receiver James Washington’s hands for a 33-yard touchdown. It was the first career touchdown catch for the freshman from Stamford, Texas.
Garman added a second touchdown pass in the second quarter to give the Cowboys a 21-3 lead. Brandon Sheperd made a leaping catch over the top of UTSA safety Triston Wade’s helmet for the 18-yard touchdown reception.
The Cowboys would add Ben Grogan’s 47-yard field goal – his first make from beyond 40 yards after missing three in the first two games of the season – with four seconds on the clock to take a 24-7 halftime lead.
In the second half, Garman and the offense struggled to get anything going and UTSA pulled within 27-13 early in the fourth quarter on Ianno’s second field goal of the night.
But the offense came through when it needed to. Garman threw 43 yards to Marcell Ateman and drilled a strike to David Glidden for 22 yards before Desmond Roland scored his second touchdown of the night on a 1-yard run.
Grogan would add a 20-yard field goal after the Cowboys drove 70 yards in the fourth quarter and then cornerback Ashton Lampkin’s 50-yard interception return for a touchdown on the game’s final play put the final points on the scoreboard.