Oklahoma State’s nine-game win streak over Texas Tech came to an end in emphatic fashion tonight, falling to the Red Raiders 41-17. This was a game that will leave many questioning the second half decision-making of the Cowboys’ coaching staff.
The game started brightly. Oklahoma State struck first in the opening quarter when, Taylor Corneilius found J.D. King for a 23-yard touchdown to cap off an eight play, 99-yard drive. The march featured an impressive 35-yard run from Justice HIll and it looked as if the Cowboys would be able to maintain possession and keep the Texas Tech offense on the sideline for much of the game.
Soon however, the Red Raiders would equalize. In what would become a theme of the night, Texas Tech quarterback Alan Bowman turned to his lanky receiver TJ Vasher. Vasher picked up a key 26-yard first down on the Raiders’ ensuing eight play, 75 yard drive, and capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown snag from Bowman. Oklahoma State responded with a field goal to end the first quarter clinging to a 10-7 lead, but it would soon become clear that the Cowboys lacked the firepower to trade scores with the nation’s top-ranked offense.
The Red Raider offense got rolling in the second quarter. After a five-yard run from Demarcus Felton, Bowman was a perfect 5-for-5, finding KeSean Carter for a two-yard touchdown, his second catch of the drive. Oklahoma State rebounded after a few misfires from Cornelius when Justice Hill punched the ball in from 13 yards out to regain the lead at 17-14. It would be Oklahoma State’s last score of the game.
The Cowboys should have had a stop on Texas Tech’s next drive when Bowman’s 3rd and 7 pass to SaRodorick Thompson fell incomplete, were it not for a defensive holding penalty on Oklahoma State linebacker Calvin Bundage. The penalty would prove costly. Two plays later, Thompson scored on a one yard touchdown run and Texas Tech took a 21-17 advantage. After a Cowboys punt, the Red Raiders tacked on a field goal to end the first half at 24-17. Second half adjustments were needed to get the Cowboy offense in gear. Those adjustments did not occur.
Texas Tech received the ball to begin the second half and looked as if they were on their way to another touchdown, mixing in some well-timed runs from SaRodorick Thompson to take the ball down to the Cowboys 5 yard line. Then, on second and goal, Bowman attempted to return to his favorite red-zone target, the 6’7” TJ Vasher. Vasher appeared to have a favorable matchup against the 6’1” Cowboys cornerback A.J. Green and initially appeared to have snagged his second touchdown on the night. Green though, had different plans. The crafty cornerback dislodged the ball from Vasher’s grasp and made an acrobatic tip-drill interception for a touchback.
Unfortunately, the Cowboys failed to capitalize and punted after two incomplete passes from Cornelius and a completion for no gain to Justice Hill. Given the field position and HIll’s success on the ground to this point, Cowboy fans will likely criticize the decision to opt for three consecutive passes, particularly in the midst of an uneven night from Cornelius and his receiving corps. Aside from Tylan Wallace (7 receptions) and Jalen McCleskey (4), no Cowboy player had more than two catches on the night.
Texas Tech then padded their lead by virtue of a 27-yard touchdown scamper from Demarcus Felton, squirming his way through arm tackles, and a 32 yard field goal from Clayton Hatfield to end the third quarter leading 34-17. In between those two Red Raider scores was a missed 36 yard field goal from Oklahoma State kicker Matt Ammendola, ending his impressive streak of 18 consecutive field goal attempts.
Playing from behind, the Cowboys largely abandoned the run and one dimensional on offense. Much as he had for most of the game, Cornelius struggled to connect with receiver Tyron Johnson, who was largely neutralized by Texas Tech Cornerback Adrian Frye. Cornelius finished the fourth quarter 0 for 5 with an interception. Demarcus Felton added a late 17 yard touchdown run for good measure and the Red Raiders prevailed 41-17.
Up next for the Cowboys: Mike Gundy & Co. will have the perfect opportunity to rebuild their confidence when they travel to face the Kansas “Chicken Soup for the Soul” Jayhawks on September 29, 2018.