STILLWATER, Okla. – Mason Rudolph’s completed passed of 91 and 86 yards but it was a short 1-yard touchdown run by Rennie Childs that was the difference in Oklahoma State’s thrilling 45-38 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium.
In a game that was delayed for two hours, the Cowboys quarterback teamed up with receiver Jhajuan Seales for the game’s biggest play. With less than two minutes remaining when on second-and-nine from his own 13-yard line Rudolph threw deep to Seales, who was pushed out of bounds at the 1-yard line.
On the next play, Childs capped his career-best performance with his fourth touchdown of the game to give the Cowboys the lead. But it wasn’t over until Ramon Richards intercepted Pittsburgh quarterback Nathan Peterman as the Panthers were looking to score a game-tying touchdown in the final 30 seconds.
"As usual, when you come to Stillwater, you get your money's worth. It was a great game for college football," said OSU head coach Mike Gundy. "Pitt's a really good football team. What they do on offense is very unique and gives us some serious issues, but we rallied back and were able to make some stops there after the delay.
"Then, obviously, we were able to hit the big stop-and-go route there on the perimeter. I'm very proud of the team. I told them in the locker room that they've learned another great life lesson in overcoming adversity and rallying back and getting prepared for the next week. That was awesome for those guys."
Rudolph threw for a school record 540 yards, including a 91-yard touchdown pass to James Washington on the first play of the game. The Cowboys junior quarterback was 26 of 46 passing for two TDs, breaking the record of Brandon Weeden, who threw for 502 yards against Kansas State on Nov. 5, 2011.
But it took all 540 yards, and career-best outings from Childs (10 carries for 101 yards and four TDs) and Washington (9 catches for 296 yards, just four yards shy of Adarius Bowman’s record of 300 receiving yards).
"Unlike last week where I said (Mason Rudolph) struggled, he played pretty good today," Gundy said. "He missed a few throws. I think he missed maybe three, but overall his accuracy today was tremendous on deep balls. We felt like James Washington, Jhajuan Seales, Chirs Lacy and Jalen McCleskey had to go get balls, based on the coverage that Pitt is going to use. I'm very proud of them.
"In the end, the defense made plays in the last 10 minutes or however long that was. They were able to get stops when we couldn't run the ball offensively. We're just a guy off on a lot of plays. We're closer. We're just a guy or two off from getting a hat on a hat. We're making strides, but we've got to get much better. What concerned me late in the game was they were running the ball on us the first few drives. That made me nervous, but fortunately for us, it worked out and we were able to come out with a win."
Washington caught the 91-yard scoring pass from Rudolph to open the scoring, and then added a 29-yard TD reception early in the second quarter to give the Cowboys a 17-10 lead.
Childs scored a pair of TDs in the second quarter – on a 1-yard run and a career-best 67-yard sweep in which he outraced the Panthers down the sideline into the end zone – but Pittsburgh was within 31-24 at halftime.
Pitt’s Matt Galambos tied the game 31-31 early in the third quarter when Rudolph fumbled deep in Cowboys territory and the senior linebacker scooped it up and only had two yards to go for the touchdown.
Childs’ 5-yard run capped another impressive OSU drive to put the Cowboys back up 38-31.
OSU’s scoring drives were as follows:
1 play, 91 yards, TD
But the Panthers tied it up by going 70 yards in just four plays with Quadree Henderson taking a handoff 50 yards for the touchdown.
That’s the way it stayed until the Cowboys took over on their own 12 with 2:07 remaining in the game. It appeared the game was heading to overtime when Justice Hill was stopped after a 1-yard gain. But on second down, Seales streaked pass the Pitt cornerback and Rudolph delivered a perfect throw as Seales raced down the sideline before being pushed out of bounds at the 1.
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Childs scored the game-winning TD on the next play to give the Cowboys the victory.