Pringle fuels Kansas St. to upset of No. 13 Okla. St.
STILLWATER, Okla. — Oklahoma State entered Saturday’s game against Kansas State with all the notable stars.
The Wildcats exited with the notable win.
Kansas State stunned the No. 13-ranked Cowboys with a 45-40 win before a crowd of 56,790 at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Wide receiver Byron Pringle outshined Oklahoma State’s standouts in his biggest day as a Wildcat, catching three long touchdown passes and returning a kickoff 89 yards for another score.
Skylar Thompson, in his second start at quarterback, produced through the air and on the ground. And it all added up to a critical win that made Kansas State (6-5, 4-4 Big 12) bowl eligible for the eighth straight season.
“Defense had a role in it,” Wildcats coach Bill Snyder said. “Offense had a role in it. Special teams had a role in it. We can be a decent football team when we play well on all three sides of the ball.”
Oklahoma State fell to 8-3 and 5-3, with all its losses coming at home, and had its faint hope of advancing to the Big 12 championship game ended.
“It sucks,” said Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph. “It’s not fun. But we’ll turn it around and come back focused.”
The Cowboys were a near three-touchdown favorite, matching an offense that featured the Big 12 leaders in passing, rushing and receiving against a Kansas State attack down to its third-team quarterback in the redshirt freshman Thompson.
But it was the Wildcats who were dynamic, at least on this day.
Thompson threw for 204 yards and three scores on 10-of-13 passing, and Pringle posted career-bests for receiving yards (166) and touchdowns. Pringle’s kickoff return for a score was the second of his career and came with D.J. Reed — the Big 12 leader in kickoff returns — out with an undisclosed injury.
“I thought Skylar did awful well,” Snyder said. “We only threw 13 passes and still we were able to get the ball downfield. That was the important thing. So we got some big plays.
“Pringle had a role in that in not only the kick return, but the catches that he made and the routes that he ran in order to get himself open.”
Rudolph struggled through an off day for much of the afternoon, tossing two interceptions, clouding a 425-yard, three-touchdown passing effort.
Running back Justice Hill went for 91 yards on the ground but was mostly neutralized when the Cowboys were forced into rally mode early in the second half. Receiver James Washington turned eight catches into 159 yards and two touchdowns, but saw Pringle make the bigger plays on his turf with 166 yards and four total scores.
“(Byron’s) been up and down, but he got to do some great things today,” said Wildcats offensive tackle Dalton Risner, “and it’s all stuff we knew he could do and it’s all things he knew he could do. “It’s all just getting the right opportunity at the right time and making it happen.”
Kansas State, already up 28-13 at the half, scored the first two touchdowns of the third quarter, both Thompson-to-Pringle connections. They hooked up for scores of 46 and 60 yards, expanding the Wildcats’ lead to 42-13.
The Cowboys closed the gap late, with Rudolph directing three fourth-quarter scoring drives, and they even had the ball with 2:16 remaining and a chance to win, yet couldn’t pull off the comeback.
“We’ve got to show up and start faster,” said Oklahoma State offensive tackle Zach Crabtree. “You can’t start slow at this level. It doesn’t matter who you play, because everybody is good enough to beat you.”
Taking advantage of big plays and Rudolph mistakes, Kansas State owned a 28-13 halftime lead.
Thompson put his stamp all over the game-opening drive, carrying six times for 65 yards, including the final 5 for a touchdown to complete a 71-yard march.
The Cowboys tied it at 7 when Rudolph connected with Washington on a 38-yard scoring pass later in the first quarter. But Oklahoma State settled for field goals on its other two trips into the red zone, and Rudolph tossed back-to-back interceptions in the second quarter.
Kansas State, meanwhile, was busy scoring touchdowns.
Thompson hit Pringle on a 47-yard scoring pass to push the Wildcats on top 14-10. Then after the second field goal by Cowboys kicker Matt Ammendola, Pringle scooted 89 yards on the kickoff return to push Kansas State’s lead to 21-13.
Rudolph’s two interceptions followed, before running back Alex Barnes romped 39 yards for a touchdown to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 28-13.
NOTES: Kansas State hadn’t won in Stillwater since 1999, a span of five visits, although the games had been close, with the five Oklahoma State wins coming by a total of 19 points. ... Kansas State was without two key players due to injuries. CB D.J. Reed, the team’s top cover man and a dynamic return man, did not play due to an unspecified injury. WR Dalton Schoen, the Wildcats’ second-leading receiver, suffered a broken collarbone against West Virginia last week and did not play. ... The Cowboys were without starting DT Darrion Daniels, who was on the sideline with his right arm in a sling.