By the time the Oklahoma State University Cowboy Marching Band took the field at halftime the Cowboys and Texas Longhorns had combined for 62 points and 780 yards. It was beginning to look like it would take 70 points to win.
But the OSU defense did the job in the second half – limiting the Longhorns to just six points and 178 yards – as the Cowboys rolled to a 49-31 victory in front of 53,468 at Boone Pickens Stadium. The victory improves OSU to 3-2 and snaps an eight-game losing streak to the Longhorns in Stillwater, dating back to 1997.
"We needed to change the tune, change the trend," Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy said. "I had mentioned to the juniors and seniors that have accomplished a lot here together, (and) 'You need to be the group that stops this.' So I think they took a little pride in that.
“Nice win for our guys. I told them in the locker room that when we came back to work last Sunday night that their attitude was tremendous. They had a great practice. A lot of guys were in our hallway watching tape on Monday and it carried throughout the week. Their attitude and chemistry throughout the week was very good. Our Thursday night meeting when I went in with the travel team was very good. They were on the board enjoying themselves. I’m not surprised that they played as well as they did today.”
Plenty of Cowboys played well, beginning with defensive tackle Vincent Taylor, who was responsible for two of the three extra-point kicks that the Cowboys blocked, matching the school record of three blocked kicks in one game.
Taylor’s first block was impressive, and he bull-rushed through to block the PAT, scooped it up and began running toward the end zone before executing a perfect pitch to Tre Flowers, who raced untouched into the end zone for two points. Instead of the score being tied 14-14, the Cowboys led 16-13.
“It’s funny, he flipped it just like those guys that played at OU in the 70’s and 80’s,” Gundy said. “We practiced it and we looked at it, but it’s not something that you do so much that you know it’s going to be perfect, but it’s talked about.”
Taylor said, "That's one of my goals I have written on my mirror is to get five blocked kicks (this season). I'm at three right now in the fifth game. If I can just keep getting them, that's something we practice everyday and it showed today."
Taylor wasn’t the only Cowboy defender who played well. Free safety Jordan Sterns had a game-high 12 tackles (9 solo) and his interception and 14-yard return off Texas quarterback Shane Buechele midway through the third quarter set up the Cowboys at the UT 1-yard line. Barry J. Sanders scored on a 1-yard run just two plays later to give OSU a 43-25 lead.
That was the only turnover the Cowboys defense but Taylor, Sterns and their teammates did the job in the second half. After giving up four touchdowns in the first half (on drives of 84, 73, 81 and 75 yards), the defense looked completely different in the second half. Texas gained only 178 yards in the second half, and 62 of those came on D’onta Foreman’s touchdown run.
“You know, some of it was adjustments, but a lot of it was cleaning up,” said Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer. “We tackled too high a couple of times, they didn't come back on a pipe route once and I had a bust from a safety on that. We had to shore up some things. Good job on them for their game plan. I had to get an extra hat over there. Besides that, the kids didn't get knocked off the ball quite as much in the second half. We asked them to fill spots. Their big backs are going to break a lot of tackles this year."
In addition, the Cowboys offense did the job Saturday. After turning the ball over four times in last week’s loss to Baylor, the offense played error-free football against the Longhorns.
Quarterback Mason Rudolph was 19-of-28 passing for 392 yards and three touchdowns.
"When everyone is chasing the ball, you have to keep them honest. He had to hold onto the ball today and made some plays,” said offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. “He made some tough runs. He took care of the football. Sometimes it’s not crystal clear, it might be getting back to the line of scrimmage or it might be getting gains. He's got a lot of strength and he's able to do well when he does scramble.”
Freshman running back Justice Hill, who lost two fumbles in the loss to Baylor, was outstanding with 135 rushing yards on 25 carries, and did not fumble. His 30-yard touchdown run gave the Cowboys an early 7-0 lead.
Sophomore receiver Jalen McCleskey caught four passes for 109 yards, including touchdown catches of 36 and 52 yards in the final five minutes of the first half to give the Cowboys a 37-25 halftime advantage.
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The Cowboys are back in action next Saturday when they host Iowa State at Boone Pickens Stadium.