By Jason Elmquist
CNHI News Service
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Starting its third different quarterback of the season, West Virginia pulled the Big 12 Conference’s biggest upset of the year — unseating No. 11 Oklahoma State 30-21 at Milan Puskar Stadium.
It was pretty simple, too, to pinpoint the reasons the Cowboys suffered their fourth-straight road loss in conference play — dating back to last season’s losses at Baylor, Oklahoma and Kansas State.
“I said it the last couple of weeks ... being successful on the road is about avoiding turnovers, perfecting the kicking game and not giving up big plays on defense. And it two of those three areas we were poor,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “We were poor in the kicking game and turned the ball over. It’s really simple. You play right into the crowd.”
Oklahoma State turned the ball over three times with West Virginia (3-2, 1-1 in Big 12) converting those into 13 points.
On two instances, the turnover came deep in OSU territory, with both resulting in field goals, while the third was more costly — an interception returned 58 yards for a touchdown.
“I’’m going to take those on me as bad throws and move forward. That’s all you can do. You can’t dwell on those,” said OSU quarterback J.W. Walsh, who threw two interceptions and failed to complete half of his passes. “... But it’s stuff we can easily correct. It’s stuff we can easily go out and be better at.”
Compounding the issues for the Cowboys was the lack of production in the running game.
OSU mustered just 111 yards rushing on 40 carries — an average of 2.8 yards per carry. WVU wasn’t much better in that aspect, running 39 times for 68 yards for 1.7 yards per rush.
What West Virginia did have going for them, however, was the deep ball.
Behind quarterback Clint Trickett, a transfer from Florida State, the Mountaineers aired it out often and it paid off on several occasions — even though Cowboy cornerbacks Justin Gilbert and Tyler Patmon each came away with interceptions. Trickett went 24 for 50 with 309 yards and a touchdown.
“We had the opportunity to get some more turnovers and we didn’t,” OSU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. “The ball floated in the air some. We had some pressure at times and he just slung it up there and we didn’t make plays.”
Walsh was able to put up some decent numbers of his own for the OSU offense.
The redshirt sophomore from Denton, Texas, threw for 322 yards and was responsible for all three of Oklahoma State’s touchdowns.
Walsh’s first touchdown pass gave the Cowboys (3-1, 0-1) their only lead of the game when he hooked up with Josh Stewart, who took a short pass over the middle and broke it loose for a 73-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter.
Senior receiver Tracy Moore, who hadn’t seen many looks the first three games of the season, was the recipient of Walsh’s second TD on a 27-yard pass up the middle. Tight end Jeremy Seaton caught OSU’s final touchdown of the game four minutes into the second half on a wide-open pass play for 30 yards.
The offense put itself in position to tie the game early in the fourth thanks to a 36-yard punt return by Stewart that started a drive at West Virginia’s 44-yard line.
After getting down to the 1-yard line — thanks in large to a 31-yard pass play to Tracy Moore — the Cowboys couldn’t punch it in for what would have been a go-ahead touchdown.
Instead, freshman Ben Grogan had a 23-yard field goal try with 9:47 left in the game hit off the inside of the right upright that would have tied the contest. Grogan also missed a 44-yard attempt wide left right before halftime.
“Emotionally, when we miss the field goal down there it got the crowd back into the game,” Gundy said. “... There’s certain things we take for granted at this level of football — short field goals, being on the 1-yard line and scoring. When you fall short in those areas, the emotions go to the other team and to their crowd.”
Oklahoma State never got the ball past its own 30-yard line on its final three possessions following the miss. That led to the Mountaineers get two more field goals to put the game away.
The Cowboys, who were three-touchdown favorites over a Mountaineer team that had just been shutout by Maryland, will face another struggling Big 12 team this week when they host Kansas State, who was idle this weekend, at Boone Pickens Stadium at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
WEST VIRGINIA 30, No. 11 OKLAHOMA ST. 21
Oklahoma St. 7 7 7 0 — 21
West Virginia 14 10 0 6 — 30
OkSt—Stewart 73 pass from Walsh (Grogan kick), 8:32.
WVU—Banks 58 interception return (Lambert kick), 6:53.
WVU—K.White 17 pass from Trickett (Lambert kick), 1:26.
WVU—FG Lambert 45, 10:43.
OkSt—T.Moore 27 pass from Walsh (Grogan kick), 8:15.
WVU—Sims 1 run (Lambert kick), 2:41.
OkSt—Seaton 30 pass from Walsh (Grogan kick), 11:35.
WVU—FG Lambert 27, 3:54.
WVU—FG Lambert 34, 1:28.
First downs 18 21
Rushes-yards 40-111 39-68
Passing 322 320
Comp-Att-Int 20-47-2 25-51-2
Return Yards 36 65
Punts-Avg. 10-37.9 8-44.6
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 2-0
Penalties-Yards 10-96 6-39
Time of Possession 26:59 33:01
RUSHING—Oklahoma St., Walsh 16-52, Roland 7-46, Stewart 2-12, J.Smith 15-1. West Virginia, Sims 18-60, Trickett 7-5, D.Smith 10-5, Smallwood 1-1, Team 3-(minus 3).
PASSING—Oklahoma St., Walsh 20-47-2-322. West Virginia, Trickett 24-50-2-309, Millard 1-1-0-11.
RECEIVING—Oklahoma St., Stewart 7-127, T.Moore 5-89, Seales 4-40, Seaton 1-30, C.Moore 1-25, Ateman 1-6, Glidden 1-5. West Virginia, Sims 5-82, Carswell 5-76, Shorts 5-32, Thompson 3-30, Clay 3-27, Alford 2-43, K.White 1-17, McCartney 1-13.