Cowboys Give It Away To Rebels

ARLINGTON, Texas – Zac Robinson planned to be just the third quarterback in Oklahoma State football history to lead his team to 10 victories. But the Cowboys turned the ball over seven times, including six by Robinson, as Ole Miss defeated Oklahoma State 21-7 in the Cotton Bowl Classic played Saturday in front of a crowd of 77,928 at Cowboys Stadium.

The Cowboys turned the ball over all six times they touched it in the fourth quarter, and finish the season with a 9-4 record for the second consecutive season.

"There's been games in the past when, as a coach, I said we didn't do a good job, and we took the hit," OSU head coach Mike Gundy said. "But in this game, it's hard to overcome giving one away. And at some point we have got to make plays. We've got to step up. I told the team the same thing.

"In order to win on a big stage against a football team that comes from a great football league and has got good players, and they're a good football team, very good team, you've got to step up and make plays. And we didn't do that today," Gundy continued.

On the other hand, the Cowboy defense was outstanding, creating five turnovers against Ole Miss, including Andre Sexton's second interception of the game midway through the third quarter to set up the OSU offense at the Rebels 12-yard line. The Cowboys tied the game 7-7 just a few plays later when Keith Toston took a direct snap out of the Wildcat formation and threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Wilson Youman.

The OSU defense came up big again on the next possession by Ole Miss when defensive end Jeremiah Price recovered quarterback Jevan Snead's fumble at the Rebel 40. On the second play, Robinson threw a perfect touch pass to Josh Cooper who appeared to score the game-winning touchdown on the 37-yard catch and run.

But the play was reviewed and the Atlantic Coast Conference officiating crew ruled that Cooper had stepped out of bounds at the 9-yard line. On fourth-and-inches from just outside the goal line, Toston was stopped by the Rebel defense.

That would be the Cowboys' last serious scoring threat as Oklahoma State's fourth quarter possessions ended this way:

1) A Robinson interception by Ole Miss free safety Kendrick Lewis;

2) A Robinson interception by Lewis on a play in which the OSU quarterback thought he had a free play because Ole Miss had jumped offsides;

3) A Robinson fumble recovered by Ole Miss defensive end Kentrell Lockett (which led to Dexter McCluster's 2-yard touchdown run to give the Rebels a 14-7 lead);

4) Three plays later, Robinson hit Hubert Anyiam in stride for a 20-yard gain but the Cowboy receiver was stripped of the ball and Ole Miss linebacker Patrick Trahan scooped up the fumble and went 34 yards untouched for the Rebels final touchdown;

5) A Robinson pass was intercepted by Trahan on a fourth-and-7 play with two minutes remaining;

6) And then Robinson's final pass as a Cowboy was intercepted by Fon Ingram on the game's final play.

Oklahoma State ran a total of 21 plays in the fourth quarter, and turned the ball over on six of them (four interceptions and two fumbles).

"His health was not a factor," Gundy said of Robinson, who has been hampered by shoulder (suffered against Texas Tech on Nov. 14) and ankle injuries (vs. OU on Nov. 28).

"I thought at times he threw the ball inconsistent. But at other times he hit them right in the chest and we dropped it, or they caught it and we put it on the ground. That combination is not good," Gundy said of Robinson, who completed 13 of 27 passes for 118 yards with the four interceptions.

The biggest play of the game may have been Robinson's second interception midway through the fourth quarter with the game still tied 7-7. OSU had taken over on its own 21-yard line following a missed 39-yard field goal attempt by Ole Miss kicker Joshua Shene. Kendall Hunter took a pitch from Robinson and went 46 yards on first down, and would have scored if not for Ole Miss cornerback Cassius Vaughn's touchdown-saving tackle.

On the next play, Robinson kept after faking to Hunter and swept around the left end for 14 yards to give the Cowboys a first down at the Ole Miss 19. But that's when Robinson (and OSU center Andrew Lewis) made a costly mistake. When Ole Miss appeared to jump offsides, Lewis snapped the ball in hopes of getting a penalty flag. Robinson thought he had a free play because offsides was going to be called by the ACC officiating crew, and threw the ball into the end zone where Lewis made his second interception.

There was no offsides call on the play, and the Lewis interception in the end zone gave Ole Miss possession at the 20.

"It's kind of a gimmick deal, try to get them to jump offsides, maybe catch a cheap one," said Robinson. "You know, it looked like usually Lewis makes great decisions when he does that. It looked like the guy was almost in the backfield. He snapped it. We kind of just threw one up, and they didn't give us the call, I guess."

OSU senior linebacker Andre Sexton was the recipient of the McKnight Trophy as the Outstanding Defensive Player as he finished with 10 tackles and two interceptions.

McCluster was the recipient of the Outstanding Offensive Player of the game award.

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