Rudolph leads No. 11 Oklahoma State to rout of South Alabama
Quarterback Mason Rudolph had Oklahoma State’s career passing mark in clear view Friday night.
Rudolph threw for 355 yards on his way to the top of the school’s career passing yards list, leading the No. 11 Cowboys to a 44-7 romp at South Alabama in Moblie, Ala.
He entered the game needing 244 yards to pass Brandon Weeden and had the record before halftime.
“There’s still a lot of stuff Weeden’s done that I haven’t,” Rudolph said after helping Oklahoma State improve to 2-0. “I’m just putting in the work every week. We were focused on getting here, doing our job and getting out.”
He completed 25 of 38 passes for three touchdowns and no interceptions.
South Alabama’s quarterback story was far different.
The Jaguars (0-2) lost starting quarterback Cole Garvin with a sprained ankle after their first possession, and they struggled offensively throughout. Garvin was replaced by Dallas Davis, last year’s starter who had been recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
The unsteadiness at quarterback — and Oklahoma State’s attacking defense — led to the blowout.
South Alabama entered the fourth quarter with just six first downs and 92 total yards. The Cowboys forced two second-half turnovers and scored on one to fuel the runaway.
The Jaguars scored with 4:35 remaining when Davis hit receiver Maaseiah Francis for a 17-yard scoring pass.
Otherwise, it was all about Rudolph and the Cowboys defense.
“We were just out-executed,” said South Alabama coach Joey Jones. “(Rudolph) was tremendous; I thought they threw the ball really well and made plays when they had to.
“He’s pretty good; an NFL proto-typical quarterback being 6-5. He throws the ball extremely well and has good presence in the pocket. He also has some good receivers to throw to. He’s going to be dangerous to anybody that they play and they’re going to score a lot of points this year.”
A senior who improved to 24-6 as a starter, Rudolph now sits at 9,352 career passing yards, and counting. He fired touchdown passes to wideouts James Washington and Marcell Ateman in the first half. He found Ateman again in the third quarter, following a fumble recovery by defensive tackle DeQuinton Osborne that set up the Cowboys’ offense at the South Alabama 43.
Linebacker Justin Phillips returned an interception 25 yards for another Oklahoma State score.
“I saw (Davis) throw it and I took off,” Phillips said. “It just landed it my hands. I saw the end zone after that.”
The Cowboys led 44-0 just moments into the fourth quarter, before turning the game over to reserves.
“Our confidence is high,” Ateman said. “We have goals and we’re just trying to reach them. Day in, day out, we practice hard. We’re just trying to maintain that stride.”
Overall, the Cowboys dominated statistically: 505-175 in total yards, 29-12 in first downs, 78-51 in plays and 6.5 to 3.4 average yards per play.
While offense typically dominates the storyline when it comes to Oklahoma State, the defense commanded equal billing Friday night in what could have been a trap-game scenario.
“Defensively, we were really good,” said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy. “You come in and you take care of business and get on the plane and get out of here.”
The Cowboys controlled much of the first half, although it didn’t completely show on the scoreboard.
Oklahoma State led 20-0 at intermission after outgaining the Jaguars 322-68 in total yards.
South Alabama didn’t have a first down until 8:01 remained in the second quarter, on its fifth possession. At one point, the Jaguars had run 12 offensive plays and the Cowboys had 13 first downs and a 17-0 lead.
On that fifth possession, South Alabama produced its best drive, marching to the Oklahoma State 14, only to have kicker Gavin Patterson miss a 31-yard field goal attempt with 1:17 remaining in the half.
That was more than enough time for the Cowboys to march down the field for a field-goal attempt, with kicker Matt Ammendola equaling his career long from 53 yards.
Before that, the Cowboys scored on three straight possessions in the first quarter, starting with a 31-yard field goal by Ammendola.
Touchdowns followed, with Rudolph connecting on scoring passes of 66 yards to Washington and 4 yards to Ateman, boosting the lead to 17-0.
Rudolph was 20 of 29 passing for 276 yards and the two scores in the first half.
South Alabama has now lost to Ole Miss and Oklahoma State to open its season.
“We played two powerhouse teams, and we knew they were going to be good,” said Davis, who was 13 of 23 for 126 yards, one touchdown and one interception. “I’m glad we finished the game strong; we didn’t give up or hang our heads.
“We just have to move forward.”
NOTES: South Alabama senior WR Sa’Mory Collier was the only player on the Jaguars roster from Oklahoma. Collier played at Owasso High School in the Tulsa area, then played junior college ball at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M before moving on to Mobile. The Cowboys do not have a player from the state of Alabama. ... Friday marked the first meeting between the schools and the first in a three-game series agreement. South Alabama visits Stillwater, Okla., on Sept. 8, 2018, and again on Oct. 16, 2023. ... Oklahoma State played without starting LB Kenneth Edison-McGruder and backup LB Kevin Henry, who were both out with injuries sustained during the week. They lost Calvin Bundage, Edison-McGruder’s replacement, on the first play of the second half when he was penalized and ejected for targeting.