By Jason Elmquist
CNHI News Service
LAWRENCE, Kan. – With redshirt freshman quarterback J.W. Walsh making his second straight start of the season, the Oklahoma State University football team overcomes a slow start on the road, a rain delay, injuries at the receiver position and a furious late-game rally to come away with a 20-14 victory over the University of Kansas.
“It’s difficult when you have all those things happen in one game,” said Walsh, who went 18 for 29 with 255 yards passing along with 49 yards rushing. “You pile them on and it’s hard to overcome all those things. ... So we’re going to walk away from this win very happy. If you still win after the way the game was playing out, you should be excited because you know you’ve got some talented guys who can step up and make plays and guys who can face adversity and overcome it.”
The game was delayed for an hour and 19 minutes due to a thunderstorm that moved through the area. The delay came with 44 seconds left in the first quarter with the game scoreless – thanks to both teams failing to convert fourth-down plays deep in the opposing team’s territory.
“Until the delay, we were somewhat limited to do what benefits our offense,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “... It helped us today because they had a nice running scheme and we were able to make that adjustment. When we came back out after the delay, we were more effective stopping the run.”
The wet conditions made it difficult on the passing game, which forced OSU to turn to the running attack – which played right into KU’s game plan. The Jayhawks were able to limit Oklahoma State’s big threat back, Joseph Randle, who finished with 80 yards on 29 carries for an average of 2.8 yards per rush.
“With the conditions you’ve got to just nickel and dime it,” Randle said. “Sometimes the big run’s not there, so you’ve just got to take those hard-earned yards.”
Oklahoma State avoided going down early in the second quarter. After Walsh threw an interception – in which he overthrew an open Josh Stewart – to set Kansas up at the OSU 27-yard line, the Cowboy defense held the Jayhawks to a turnover on downs. It was the fourth, fourth-down try of the game with none of them being converted.
After OSU went 3-and-out, Quinn Sharp kicked a booming 70-yard punt that pinned KU inside their own 10 to shift the field position back in OSU’s favor.
“I was definitely trying to hit a big ball and flip the field,” said Sharp, who also booted a 72-yard punt later in the game. “... You want to make them drive as far as possible, because the longer they have to drive the harder it is for them to progress.”
The punt would prove to be big as KU had to punt from its own end zone and the Pokes got the ball back at midfield – and promptly scored the first points of the game on a six-play drive capped by a 4-yard TD run by Walsh.
Charlie Moore got OSU back on the board in the third quarter when he caught the ball just past the line scrimmage, broke a tackle and raced up the sideline for a 72-yard touchdown – OSU’s longest play of the season from scrimmage. It was his first touchdown since scoring against Tulsa last season in garbage time.
“It was just a base play in our system. ... Josh Stewart made a great block on the other side of the field and Charlie is really fast when he gets going,” Gundy said. “He is strong, so once he got out there I was sure they would have a hard time catching him.”
– Jason Elmquist is the sports editor of the Stillwater NewsPress.