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Rudolph, Cowboys end No. 10 West Virginia's unbeaten streak

Rudolph, Cowboys end No. 10 West Virginia's unbeaten streak
Published On: Sat, Oct 29
Dec 12, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Navy Midshipmen guard Adam West (72) and wide receiver Tyler Carmona (88) celebrate with teammates after beating Army 21-17 at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

STILLWATER, Okla. -- All week long, Oklahoma State heard the reports about West Virginia's dominant defense.

The Cowboys took it all in, too, on offense and defense, vowing to carry it to the field.

Saturday, it was Oklahoma State's defense that claimed the day, forcing three turnovers and fueling a 37-20 win over the 10th-ranked Mountaineers at Boone Pickens Stadium.

"I think it instigated both sides of the ball," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said of the chatter regarding West Virginia's defense. "Our offensive staff and our players took it personally and our defense did exactly what (it needed to do)."

The Cowboys (6-2, 4-1 Big 12) more than doubled the 17.8 points-per-game average that the Mountaineers (6-1, 3-1) were allowing to opponents, and forced three turnovers that produced 17 points for the offense.

"Well, this one is pretty simple," said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. "Two pretty evenly matched teams. They made three plays that flat-out affected the game. It's as simple as that. They forced three turnovers.

"They took all three of them down into the red zone; basically gave them 17 points. And we lose by 17 points. That's the difference in the game."

Cornerback Ramon Richards and linebacker Kevin Henry had interceptions for the Cowboys while end Cole Walterscheid recovered the fumble.

"Everyone was fired up," said Oklahoma State safety Jordan Sterns. "There were guys making big-time plays today. Everyone stepped up on defense."

The matchup shaped up as a crossroads game for both squads.

For Oklahoma State, it was a chance to remain in the Big 12 title chase and to continue distancing itself from a heartbreaking and controversial early September loss to Central Michigan. For the Mountaineers, it was an opportunity to confirm their status as the conference favorite and as a contender for the College Football Playoff.

The Cowboys made the most of the day in handing West Virginia its first loss of the season.

"All our goals are still in front of us -- have been in front of us," said Oklahoma State linebacker Chad Whitener. "We never felt sorry for ourselves or got down, we just kept pushing forward. And we're playing good football."

Quarterback Mason Rudolph passed for 273 yards and three touchdowns, the defense did its part and kicker Ben Grogan booted three field goals for the Cowboys.

"The most complete game that we've played this year," Gundy said.

The Mountaineers pulled within a touchdown at 27-20 with 8:58 to play, but the Cowboys drove to a touchdown and added a field goal with 1:34 remaining to seal the victory.

After Oklahoma State took a 27-10 lead on Rudolph's 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and was threatening to pull away, West Virginia scored twice to get back in the game.

Skyler Howard answered Rudolph with a 12-yard touchdown run of his own and kicker Mike Molina booted a 21-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 27-20.

But Rudolph got busy again, hitting Chris Lacy for his second touchdown reception of the day, a 7-yard connection with 5:15 left to boost the lead back to two scores, 34-20.

Howard passed for 212 yards and a touchdown and ran for score, but also tossed two interceptions and was stripped for a fumble.

Oklahoma State led 20-10 at the half behind Rudolph and the opportunistic defense.

Rudolph completed 15 of 20 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns -- both coming after West Virginia had gone ahead 10-6.

The game started as a battle of field goals, with the Cowboys getting two from Grogan while the Mountaineers got one from Molina.

West Virginia struck for the game's first touchdown when Howard hit wide receiver Shelton Gibson for a 19-yard scoring pass early in the second quarter. Howard correctly read a Cowboys blitz and laid out the throw for Gibson, who ran it down in the back of the end zone.

Rudolph and the Cowboys responded after defensive end Walterscheid recovered a Howard fumble at the West Virginia 13. On second down, Rudolph found Lacy for a 5-yard touchdown pass and a 13-10 lead.

After Molina missed on a 39-yard field goal, Oklahoma State extended its lead by driving 78 yards in 14 plays, with Rudolph hitting receiver Jalen McCleskey for the score on a 3-yard pass.

NOTES: West Virginia lost leading rusher Rushel Shell to an ankle injury in the first half. Shell, part of a two-pronged tailback tandem along with Justin Crawford, ran for 38 yards on seven carries before exiting. He averaged 77.5 yards per game and had a team-high five touchdowns entering the contest. ... On homecoming at Oklahoma State, the school presented to fans the 1945 national championship trophy recently awarded retroactively by the American Football Coaches Association. The AFCA has been charged with selecting national champs for the years 1922 to 1949. Then Oklahoma A&M, known as the Aggies, went 9-0 in 1945, beating St. Mary's in the Sugar Bowl to complete the school's first unbeaten season. ... With Saturday's win, Cowboys coach Mike Gundy joined a group of just six coaches with at least 100 wins at their current school. Gundy joined Kansas State's Bill Snyder, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, TCU's Gary Patterson, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, Alabama's Nick Saban and Utah's Kyle Whittingham.

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