Most college players have dreams of playing in the College Football Playoff, not the Camping World Bowl, but for Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech, both teams came into today’s matchup looking to reach 10 wins for the season. While a win would not mean much more than a 10th victory for the Cowboys, a loss would have been a devastating end to a season that started off with lofty goals. The game was close, but Oklahoma State was able to come away with a 30-21 victory over Virginia Tech.
More than a month removed from playing football, Oklahoma State started off looking as flat as they had all season. The Cowboys took the opening kickoff, and within a few plays, they were deep in Hokie territory. Mason Rudolph found his receivers easily, and Justice Hill ran the ball well, but the Oklahoma State offense stalled inside the Virginia Tech twenty as the Cowboys settled for a field goal from Matt Ammendola to take a 3-0 lead early.
Virginia Tech’s offense, who came in to the game labeled as mediocre at best, had a game plan to eat up the clock and try to put some points on the board. They did just that to open up the game, and they took a little over four minutes to run eight plays as quarterback Josh Jackson ran in from 13 yards out to score a touchdown and put the Hokies up 7-3 midway through the first quarter.
Oklahoma State’s offense would stall again on the next drive, and after taking over possession, Virginia Tech was well on its way to punching it in to the end zone for another touchdown. The Hokies were able to grind out 10 minutes of clock, but after the Cowboys were able to stop the Hokies on the one-yard line, Josh Jackson would fumble 1st and goal, and Ramon Richards would recover for the Cowboys at the nine-yard line.
The Cowboy offense would once again march down the field with ease, and yet again, they would stall as soon as they got into the red zone. A 1st and 10 at the Hokie 18-yard line turned into 3rd and 11 on the 19, and the Cowboys were unable to convert. Ammendola was able to knock another kick through the uprights, and halfway through the second quarter, Oklahoma State trailed Virginia Tech 6-7.
After three possessions that ended in punts, two from Virginia Tech and one from Oklahoma State, the Cowboys took over inside their own 20-yard line with just a little over a minute until halftime. That proved to be more than enough time as it took just 39 seconds for Oklahoma State to get in the end zone after Mason Rudolph found Marcel Ateman for a 50-yard bomb to get them down the one-yard line, where Justice Hill would run it in for the score. At the half, the Cowboys would lead the Hokies 13-7.
Oklahoma State ended the first half with all the momentum, and they carried it out of the locker room at halftime to kickoff the third quarter as well. After holding Virginia Tech just one yard on their opening drive, the Cowboys took over at their own 21-yard line. It didn’t take Mason Rudolph long as he marched Oklahoma State 79 yards down the field in eight plays and two-and-a-half minutes, and he found Dillon Stoner for a 17-yard strike to extend the Cowboy lead and make it 20-7 with a little over 11 minutes left in the third quarter.
Looking at an essential must-score situation, Virginia Tech went to work with a sense of urgency on their next drive. The Hokies were able to set themselves up with a 1st and goal at the 10-yard line due to two nice runs by Deshawn McClease and a couple of key passes by Josh Jackson. On 3rd and goal at the 9, Jackson was able to find Eric Kumah for a touchdown to make it 21-14 with 6:31 left in the period.
On the ensuing possession, it took Oklahoma State only four plays to find the end zone. Mason Rudolph found James Washington for a 65-yard score, making Washington the career-leader in receiving yards for the Cowboys. The quick strike would give Oklahoma State a 27-14 lead, but unfortunately for an injury-riddle Cowboy defense, it would only take 54 seconds off the clock.
Virginia Tech would make some plays, but Oklahoma State’s defense would hold strong, and the Hokies were forced to punt, or so it seemed. Tech punter Chase Mummau would take the snap, and instead of kicking away, he would drop back for a pass and find Anthony Shegog for 22-yard gain and a first down at the Cowboy 24-yard line. The Hokies would quickly find themselves in the red zone, and at the end of the third quarter, Oklahoma State would hold a 27-14 lead over Virginia Tech, but with the Hokies knocking on the door of the end zone.
Looking at 3rd and 8 on the 11-yard line, Josh Jackson was unable to connect with Eric Kumah in the end zone, so the Hokies decided to go for it on fourth down. Unfortunately for Jackson, he fumbled the snap, and the Cowboy defense swarmed him for a 16-yard loss. Oklahoma State took over, and on the very first play, Mason Rudolph found James Washington for a 35-yard gain to get the Cowboys into Hokie territory. A few plays later, Oklahoma State faced a 4th and 2 with the offense still on the field. The Cowboys would go for it, but Sione Finefeuiaki was unable to haul in the short pass from Rudolph, and Oklahoma State would turn it over on downs with 12:21 left in the game.
The Hokies would continue doing what they had done for most of the game in terms of working their way down the field while eating up the game clock. Unfortunately for Virginia Tech, yardage and time of possession don’t always equate to points, and despite getting down to the Cowboy 29-yard line, all of their hard work on the possession was erased when Josh Jackson was intercepted by Darius Curry.
Curry returned the interception to the Hokie 46-yard line with 9:22 left in the game, and the Cowboys were in a good spot to put the game away. Oklahoma State was able to get a first down, but the Cowboys quickly found themselves facing 4th and 6 on the Virginia Tech 35-yard line. Instead of kicking a field goal, Mike Gundy opted to go for it, and the Hokies were able to sack Mason Rudolph for an 8-yard loss, giving Virginia Tech the ball on their own 39-yard line with 6:46 left in the game.
The Hokies moved away from their game plan of slowing down the game, and this time, their drive lasted only a 66 seconds. Unlike their previous drive which was cut short by a turnover, Virginia Tech was able to march 61 yards in seven plays and punch it into the end zone to creep a little closer to Oklahoma State. With 5:40 to go in the game, the Cowboys held a narrow 26-20 lead over the Hokies.
Oklahoma State would need to run the clock on the next possession, and adding some points would not be so bad, either. The Cowboys were able to move the ball a little bit as they ran the clock, but they were forced to settle for a 38-yard field goal attempt by Matt Ammendola. The kick narrowly made it inside the right upright, and with 2:34 to play, Oklahoma State held a 30-21 lead.
Virginia Tech would do their very best to score, but with too little time and not enough magic, the Hokies threw up a 4th and 9 Hail Mary pass with time winding down, and it was batted down. The Cowboys would take over with 11 seconds left in the game, and Mason Rudolph would take a knee for the last time of his illustrious career, giving Oklahoma State the 30-21 victory to cap a 10-win season.