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RECAP: Pokes pull away in 2nd Half, down KU 44-20 in Lawrence

Forcing 3 turnovers in the second half, the OSU defense swung the momentum and sealed the road victory on Saturday

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Kansas Gary Rohman/MLS/USA TODAY Sports

After coming out flat in the first half, the Pokes rallied in the second half to move to 5-2 on the season and 3-1 in Big 12 play. Kansas fell to 1-6 overall and head coach David Beaty is still searching for his first conference victory.

Although the final score might indicate an easy victory today in Lawrence, in typical Oklahoma State fashion, this game was anything but.

The first half today was a story all too familiar to Cowboys fans this year. Conservative, uninspiring, and again failing to take advantage of opportunities. However, the team found themselves ahead 17-13 by halftime, in thanks to a one-yard touchdown by Justice Hill with 2:49 left in the 2nd quarter.

In the second half, things turned around quickly thanks to some opportunistic defense. The Pokes forced a fumble at KU’s own 18, and Rudolph threw a 15 yard TD in his first game back to extend the lead 24-13 early in the second half.

Kansas answered with an impressive 10 play, 75-yard touchdown drive to cut the lead back to 24-20 with 6:24 left in the third.

Quickly after KU’s score, OSU was forced to punt and KU took over with a chance to take the lead. OSU defensive tackle DeQuinton Osborne quickly shut down any hope of a KU drive with an acrobatic interception in KU territory that he returned all the way to the 1-yard line. (We were so close to a Piesman moment!) Rennie Childs punched it in on the next play.

On the very next KU possession was the play of the game and shifted all of the momentum for OSU heading into fourth quarter. OSU’s Jordan Sterns intercepted a deep ball from KU that bounced off of the facemask of KU wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez (such a KU move). Sterns then lateraled it to big man Vincent Taylor who transformed into an option QB and HE lateraled it to Jarell Owens who was tackled at the KU 18. I’m excited all over again writing about that play, it truly was so awesome. Ben Grogan converted a field goal to extend the lead by 14. It was an insane sequence, something that can only be summed up by video. (see in final thoughts)

OSU’s defense came through again in the fourth when they stopped KU on downs inside the OSU five. Ben Grogan, OSU’s all time leading scorer, capped off an OSU drive led by a 23-yard Justice Hill run and a 39 yard reception by Jalen McCleskey.

Chris Carson would score on a 16 yard run for his 3rd touchdown of the day since returning from injury to officially seal the game in the fourth quarter.

Rudolph finished with 220 yards and 1 touchdown. McCleskey was the leading receiver for the Pokes with 6 catches for 129 yards while true freshman Justice Hill paced the Cowboys for a career high 162 rushing yards on 22 carries to go along with a touchdown.

All in all, its hard to complain about a 24 point victory on the road in the Big 12, but if not for a couple fortunate bounces and big plays by the defense, this game could have been a lot closer.

Here are some thoughts I had during todays game (in no particular order):

  • What did you guys think of the unis? I thought we looked a little bit like Georgia out there (the orange chrome looked a little red at times on TV).
  • I really liked coming out and looking to establish the run. It was such an important part of the success in OSU offenses under Holgersen and Monken. If OSU can get back to that balanced attack, it will make for an even more prolific offensive attack.
  • Speaking of the running game, FEED Justice Hill. The dude is a flat out stud and gives a completely different look in the backfield, one that we’ve been missing for the past couple years. He ran for 162 today and now has three games rushing over 100 yards a true freshman.
  • What is it about our first half play that seems so uninspiring? The conservative call to punt on on 4th and 2 on the KU 37 was lame, the penalties, the early fumble, the list goes on. Our first halves lack urgency this year, but the second half is a very different story.
  • Kansas is far away from being good again, but they are starting to show signs of life. This team isn’t completely a walkover like they were last year. I predict they get their first big 12 win under Beaty this season. Definitely something to build on there.
  • Its amazing to me that James Washington was completely taken out of this game. One catch for 9 yards. There has to be urgency to find more ways to get him the football. He is the best playmaker for OSU and even when defenses scheme against him, there has to be adjustments to get him involved.
  • What happened to the O-line today? Rudolph was sacked 5 times and hurried a bunch of others. I think I’m (and we are) underestimating the impact Larry Williams has on the offense, and the Pokes need him back soon.
  • I thought Rudolph was fine today. Not great, not bad. I think at times he holds on to the ball too long but other than the fumble he made some good throws and good decisions. It was apparent KU sold out to shut down James Washington though and I think Mason relies on that deep ball to Washington as a plan B too often. It wasn’t ever there today.
  • The defense came up huge today. Its frustrating watching them miss open tackles and let receivers run free, but they stepped up when it mattered most and that’s something that we should be accustomed to at this point. Those turnovers in the 3rd were HUGE. The offense had no tempo or rhythm to it and we needed big plays that the defense provided.
  • I love it when big guys make plays, shout out to DT DeQuinton Osborne. This play really changed the course of the game.
  • I thought it was big to get Jordan Stearns back. I think we missed him a lot against Iowa State, He adds a different level of toughness to our D (not to mention tackling)
  • Can we please let Vincent Taylor run option QB for us in short yardage situations? The dude is a BALLER.
  • I’ve watched this replay almost 10 times, its still just as awesome as the time before.
  • Check out the top plays of the game, video via Cowboy Football Elite’s Twitter account:

My final thoughts:

OSU definitely could have played better today, but at the end of the day, you take a 24 point win on the road, no matter who you’re playing. They’ve got to find a rhythm on offense in the passing game next week against West Virginia, and again, will need some timely turnovers. This team makes every week exciting whether we like it or not. They could beat anyone and could lose to anyone. It’s not the most reassuring brand of football, but its definitely entertaining. I hope BPS is rocking for homecoming next week, it should be a great one. The Pokes are still alive and well in the race for the Big 12 title!