MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – When the No. 11 Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-1) stormed into Milan Puskar Stadium, it seemed to be a rather auspicious beginning for the Mountaineers.
In front of 50,109 fans, WVU redshirt senior quarterback Jarret Doege connected quickly with Sam James, T.J. Banks, and Leddie Brown for a combined 42 yards of passing offense. The team’s only fourth down conversion came on Brown’s four-yard carry. When redshirt freshman Garrett Greene entered the game, he set off across the field, gaining 10 yards. In only 11 plays, the Mountaineers were suddenly inside the Oklahoma State 13-yard line.
The forward progress was halted there, though. Redshirt junior Casey Legg was sent out to boot a 30-yard field goal, the first score of the game, and the sole points produced from a stingy first quarter.
When the Cowboys regained possession, the team burnt a quick set of downs before sending Australian punter Tom Hutton out to punt the ball 44 yards. WVU picked the ball up at its own 23-yard line, and after two straight six-yard Brown rushes, Doege was taken to the ground for the first time. Redshirt junior linebacker Devin Harper got his arms around the quarterback and dragged him back seven yards. Doege was quick to shake it off, as he turned the next play into a five-yard rush. The sack dulled the Mountaineer offense’s momentum, though, and redshirt senior Mountaineer punter Tyler Sumpter let the ball sail 35 yards.
With the Mountaineer defense on the field once more, it was showtime. After being rushed out of bounds on the first down, redshirt junior quarterback Spencer Sanders completed a 14-yard pass to senior wide out Tay Martin, but that was the end of the positive yardage for the Cowboys. The next play, redshirt senior running back Jaylen Warren’s rush was driven back three yards by a Dante Stills tackle. The senior defensive tackle proved his worth once more on the next play, when he intercepted a Sanders throw from a yard away. He swatted the ball out of the air and dropped it into his own waiting hands, booking the Cowboys’ only turnover.
The Mountaineer excitement was short-lived. On second down, Greene, now in at quarterback, was sacked by redshirt senior safety Jason Taylor II. He fumbled the ball and a mad dash ensued until the ball was downed by redshirt sophomore running back Tony Mathis Jr. 26 yards back. The result of the Mountaineer drive was a Sumpter punt, good fo 50 yards.
Oklahoma State’s possession ended the first quarter, and six plays into the second quarter, the Cowboys offense was stopped. Hutton’s punt went 39 yards, and opened up the Cowboys’ defensive presence to a stellar drive capped at four plays for the Mountaineers. It ended in a punt of its own: 38 yards from Sumpter.
Sloppy defense was in WVU’s future, as the Cowboys converted two quick first downs. On third down, a roughing the passer penalty was issued to WVU’s redshirt sophomore BANDIT Jared Bartlett. It drove the play back to the WVU six-yard line and gave OSU a fresh set of downs. The team didn’t need them, as Sanders connected with Martin for a seven-yard touchdown pass the following play, on 1st and Goal. With 8:32 left in the first half, Oklahoma State lead 7-3.
When WVU regained possession, the series ended similarly to the previous attempts. A quick seven-yard pass to James couldn’t save the drive, as Doege was sacked for the second time; in this instance the culprit was redshirt junior defensive end Tyler Lacy, who drove Doege back 10 yards and forced Sumpter out to punt, good for 43 yards.
Eleven plays later, the Cowboys showed offensive dominance. A third down conversion and two second down conversions put Oklahoma State down at the WVU 17-yard line. It proved close enough for senior kicker Tanner Brown to nail a 34-yard field goal and ratchet the Pokes’ score up 10-3 with 1:10 to play in the half.
Just before halftime, Doege was sacked for the third time. Brock Martin pushed him back six yards as time expired. West Virginia concluded the first half with 61 yards of total offense, becoming the seventh team stymied to fewer than 100 yards in a half by the Cowboys. Doege ended the half 7-11 for 63 yards, while Sanders put up 116 passing yards on 14 completions. WVU’s rushing corps put together only 29 yards between Brown and Mathis Jr.
When the third quarter kicked off, Oklahoma State ran through three quick downs and sent Hutton back out to boot the ball 42 yards. When the Mountaineers got the ball, at their own 17-yard line, Mathis Jr. set the team up for a solid advancement following back-to-back rushes (10-yard and three-yard runs). Doege responded by getting sacked for the fourth time; redshirt senior linebacker Devin Harper tallied the takedown, driving Doege back six yards and opening the field to Sumpter’s foot. A 54-yard punt later, the Cowboys had the ball.
On the next drive, the Cowboys couldn’t put together meaningful yardage, but when Hutton punted the ball away, WVU’s redshirt sophomore wide receiver Graeson Malashevich fumbled the return. The ball bounced three yards away, at the WVU 26-yard line, and was recovered by sophomore cornerback Korie Black. Four plays later, a Sanders to Martin 12-yard pass ended up in the corner of the West Virginia end zone. Brown’s extra point flew through the uprights and the score lifted to 17-3 with 5:30 to play in the third quarter, the only points on the board in the third quarter.
The following WVU drive was abysmal for Doege, as he got sacked on half of the down’s plays; the first came from Cody Walterscheid and pushed the WVU offense back seven yards. One play later, Martin got to him again; this time, Doege was pushed back seven yards for his sixth sack of the game.
Head coach Mike Gundy’s Oklahoma State team tacked on seven more cushion points in the fourth quarter when, four plays in, Warren found room for a 13-yard rush that landed him in the Mountaineer end zone. With 13:20 to play in the game, WVU trailed No. 11 Oklahoma State 24-3.
Doege’s seventh sack of the game occurred during a desperate attempt to free the WVU offense of its own red zone. Directly after he connected with junior wide receiver Winston Wright Jr. for 14 yards, Doege fell prey to Oklahoma State’s freshman defensive end Collin Oliver. Oliver knocked him back for a six-yard loss, completing a less than optimal night for the redshirt senior.
When Greene returned to lead the WVU offense, a dangerous helmet-to-helmet collision from OSU’s Trey Rucker resulted in stunned gasps from the fans who decided to stick it out at the stadium. Rucker was swiftly ejected for targeting, but it became the final nail in the coffin of a bad Mountaineer showing. Brown finished the game with a mere 27 yards rushing. WVU ended the night with 133 yards of total offense, 64 of which were earned on the opening drive of tonight’s game. Doege finished the night 15-22 for 109 yards and an interception. Not a single player on WVU’s receiving corps earned more than 46 yards; James lead the charge with the aforementioned yardage.
Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles lead his team to 59 tackles, 12 TFLs to claim 82 WVU yards, eight sacks for 75 yards, a pair of forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. Gundy and Oklahoma State earned their eighth win of the season, while WVU dropped back to 4-5 with the 24-3 final.
Next on the Mountaineer slate: Kansas State on Nov. 13 in Manhattan, Ks.