Rudolph leads Oklahoma State past Virginia Tech
No. 22 Virginia Tech was on the verge of finishing a lengthy drive and taking a double-figure lead early in the second quarter of the Camping World Bowl Thursday.
But the inability to convert, as it so often does, changed the game’s momentum in favor of No. 19 Oklahoma State.
A botched handoff led to a fumble recovery by defensive back Ramon Richards at the Oklahoma State 12-yard line. The Cowboys scored on their next possession, took the lead for good before halftime and went on to a 30-21 decision at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
Quarterback Mason Rudolph completed 21-of-32 passes for 351 yards and two touchdowns as Oklahoma State (10-3) won despite allowing 518 total yards and only possessing the ball for 21:47.
However, key Hokie mistakes helped swing the outcome. None was bigger than the fumble that Richards recovered with Virginia Tech leading 7-3. It came on a first-down play from the Cowboys’ 1-yard line and ended a drive that lasted 18 plays and traversed 82 yards while using 10:06 on the clock.
“It may have been,” Richards said when asked if the play turned the game around. “But you have to give credit to a couple of guys who had an impact on the play before I even picked up the ball.”
The Cowboys converted the big turnover into a 36-yard field goal by Matt Ammendola that cut Virginia Tech’s edge to 7-6 with 7:28 left in the first half. Justice Hill powered into the end zone from the 1 with 45 seconds left in the half to send Oklahoma State to the locker room ahead 13-7.
Rudolph cranked up his right arm in the third quarter. The senior hit a sliding Dillon Stoner in the right front corner of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown pass less than four minutes into the period to finish a 79-yard drive.
After redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Jackson connected with Eric Kumah for a 9-yard scoring strike at the 6:31 mark to pull the Hokies within 20-14, Rudolph wasted little time responding.
James Washington ran past a cornerback with no safety help over the middle. Rudolph arced the ball down the middle of the field and Washington ran under it for a 65-yard touchdown pass. It gave the Cowboys a 27-14 advantage and enabled Washington to break the school’s all-time receiving record.
“Just my trademark, man,” Washington said of the historic play.
Jackson, who accounted for 298 total yards and all three Virginia Tech touchdowns, drew his team within 27-21 with 5:40 left in the game on a 5-yard run. But in the marquee matchup of the Hokies’ vaunted defense against Oklahoma State’s explosive offense, offense won out on the game’s key drive.
Needing a third-and-11 stop to force a punt that could give the offense a chance to win the game, Virginia Tech (9-4) couldn’t prevent the Cowboys from meting out their brand of Justice. Justice Hill swept around left end, made a defender miss at the line of scrimmage and zoomed 31 yards to the Hokies’ 18.
Ammendola converted a 38-yard field goal with 2:34 left, the ball sliding just inside the right upright, to apply the clinching blow.
“We knew coming into this game it would be pretty evenly matched,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “Virginia Tech did a great job. They had a great game plan, but we made a couple of more plays in the end.”
And fewer mistakes. The Cowboys were flagged only four times for 20 yards and committed no turnovers. The Hokies ended three fourth-quarter drives inside Oklahoma State territory without points.
“We had a plan. We executed it well at times,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said. “I don’t really remember Oklahoma State making many mistakes and we made a handful.”
NOTES: Virginia Tech played in a bowl game for the 25th consecutive season, the longest current streak recognized by the NCAA. The Hokies last missed a bowl in 1992, going 2-8-1. ... Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph finished his career with 50 school records, including passing yards in a season, climbing over Brandon Weeden. ... Virginia Tech WR Cam Phillips, who caught a team-high 71 passes for 964 yards and seven TDs in the regular season, missed the bowl game after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia.