No. 15 Oklahoma State escapes with 41-34 win over Texas Tech
LUBBOCK, Texas -- No. 15 Oklahoma State survived another shootout against Texas Tech.
Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph kept the ball on a zone read and found a clear field for a 16-yard touchdown run with 1:12 left in the fourth quarter to lift Oklahoma State to a 41-34 victory on Saturday at Jones Stadium.
After edging Texas Tech by a point last year, Oklahoma State (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) outgained the Red Raiders 602-384 but couldn’t put the game away until the final minute.
Texas Tech (3-1, 0-1) erased a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter as Nic Shimonek led touchdown drives of 70 and 51 yards. Shimonek finished with 330 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception.
But Rudolph was better as he completed 27 of 38 passes for 376 yards, three passing touchdowns and two rushing scores.
“Mason was willing to run the ball effectively,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “Mason had 11 carries for 55 yards, so a good day for him. A good day for all of us.”
Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington, a west Texas native, had another big day as he led the Cowboys to their ninth straight win against Texas Tech. He finished with nine catches for 127 yards and a 14-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
Last season, Washington burned Texas Tech for 158 yards, including an 82-yard touchdown, on six catches.
Despite Texas Tech giving up more than 600 yards of offense, coach Kliff Kingsbury is still liking what he’s seeing from his embattled defense. Red Raiders cornerback DaMarcus Fields returned an interception 95 yards for a touchdown and, though the Cowboys only punted once, Kingsbury said the defense got stops that kept them in the game.
“That big interception return was huge,” Kingsbury said. “They’re just fighting for four quarters, they continue to fight. That was a very good offense coming at them and they never got their head down. They kept battling and kept battling.”
Matt Ammendola attempted an 18-yard field goal that would have given Oklahoma State a 37-34 lead with less than six minutes left. But Ammendola’s kick hit the right upright and fell away. It was the kicker’s second missed field goal as he hit the same upright from 22 yards in the first quarter.
But Oklahoma State’s defense held when it needed to and forced a Texas Tech punt in the fourth quarter to set up the Cowboys’ game-winning drive.
“Defensively, we played terrific,” Gundy said. “They hit us on a few drives at the end of the third quarter and the fourth quarter. We made a couple of adjustments and got a couple of key stops.”
Oklahoma State dominated the first half statistically but went to halftime with just a 21-17 lead.
The Cowboys rolled up 343 total yards in the first and second quarters. Rudolph completed 18 of 22 passes for 252 yards, including touchdowns to Washington, Justice Hill and Jalen McCleskey.
Rudolph’s 4-yard touchdown toss to McCleskey put the Cowboys in front 21-14 with 3:49 left in the second quarter.
However, Rudolph’s one miscue of the first half turned into the Red Raiders’ key play.
Rudolph overthrew Washington and cornerback DaMarcus Fields intercepted the pass. With a wall of blockers flanking him, Fields returned the pick 95 yards for a touchdown that tied the score at 7 with 7:42 left in the first quarter.
“The depth and the width of that route, any time you overthrow a guy you’re going to hit a corner right in the chest,” Gundy said. “But then (Rudolph) rallied back and made key throws, the wideouts continued to make great catches in crucial situations.”
Shimonek hit wide receiver Dylan Cantrell for a 3-yard touchdown that gave the Red Raiders a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.
The Cowboys, who weren’t forced to punt in the first half, responded to falling behind by scoring touchdowns on consecutive offensive series to retake the lead.
Michael Barden booted a 24-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter to hold Oklahoma State’s lead to four at the break.
In 2016, Texas Tech followed its one-point loss versus Oklahoma State with a crushing 56-point defeat at Iowa State.
“Last year, we didn’t handle losses well,” Kingsbury said. “We’ll find out this week what we’re made of. I like this team’s mentality, I have so far. I expect them to fight back and get better this week. So we’ll find out this week what we’re made of.”
NOTES: Texas Tech entered the game clinging to a 21-20-3 lead in the series against Oklahoma State despite the Cowboys coming in with an eight-game winning streak versus the Red Raiders. ... Before falling in its Big 12 opener versus TCU last week, Oklahoma State romped through its nonconference slate, winning three games against Tulsa, South Alabama and Pittsburgh by a combined 162-52. ... In 2016, Oklahoma State edged Texas Tech 45-44 in a game in which both offenses gained more than 500 yards. Oklahoma State outgained Texas Tech 605-518 but avoided overtime when Red Raiders K Clayton Hatfield missed an extra point attempt with 1:44 left in the fourth quarter.