Oklahoma State escapes West Virginia with win, proves it can overcome mistakes

Oklahoma State escapes West Virginia with win, proves it can overcome mistakes

The Cowboys got a massive game from Ollie Gordon, and OSU proved resilient enough to survive fumbles, an interception, penalties and more in a hostile environment.

Sam Hutchens

By Sam Hutchens

| Oct 21, 2023, 8:53pm CDT

Sam Hutchens

By Sam Hutchens

Oct 21, 2023, 8:53pm CDT

Kendal Daniels erased a big OSU mistake in, quite literally, one swift blow.

That was a theme.

With 13:49 left in the first quarter and the promise of a strong start hopes firmly erased because of an OSU muffed punt just 1:07 into the game, Daniels swarmed West Virginia’s Kole Taylor in the flat at the OSU 31-yard line and punched the football ball loose with a balled right fist. Daniels caught it on the bounce like he was dribbling a basketball and hopped out of bounds at the OSU 31-yard line.

It was a brilliant play, and it helped OSU to a mistake-filled 48-34 victory on Saturday in Morgantown, where Newton’s third law was in effect. When the Cowboys made a mistake or gave up a big play, there was quickly an equal and opposite reaction.

“I seen the ball and I punched it,” Daniels said. “I felt the punch, knew I had a good punch and I was just trying to find the ball. It happened to be in my hands when the play was over.”

Entering the game, OSU had lost just one fumble this season. The muffed punt was one of a few mistakes that could’ve haunted OSU. 

The only other turnover came at 8:04 in the third quarter when Alan Bowman threw an ill-fated deep ball that safety Anthony Wilson picked off on the WVU 4-yard line. Entering the game, OSU had not won either game in which Bowman had been intercepted.

OSU’s usually reliable kicker Alex Hale, who entered the game 15-for-18 on field goals, failed to curl a 31-yarder before the half. The Cowboys defense allowed 11 plays of 15 yards or more, including Garrett Greene touchdown passes of 32 and 45 yards. The Cowboys also committed seven penalties for 65 yards, which was above their average of 41 yards.

“Had a lot of different things happened in the game,” Gundy said. “Our team was very resilient.”

OSU had a punt partially blocked in the second quarter when Hudson Kaak booted the ball off the helmet of one of his blockers. Gundy called it an inexcusable self-inflicted wound.

“We’ve got a few things in special teams that we need to clean up,” coach Mike Gundy said. “Things that are very uncommon for us. We’ve got to clean up the special teams area. A few too many penalty yards…I was proud of the way the guys continued to battle back.” 

How did OSU overcome all that? They fought fire with fire, forcing WVU into mistakes. Senior OSU corner Korie Black got his first career interception and walk-on safety Parker Robertson recovered a muffed punt with 14:11 left in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 27.

“When they dropped (the punt) it gave us life,” Gundy said. “At that time, I think it was tied then, it sounds funny now that the score was 48-34, I was thinking OK, if we can use some clock and kick a field goal I feel good. That’s a huge momentum shift for our team.”

OSU’s offense, largely powered by running back Ollie Gordon’s career-high 282 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries, matched the Mountaineers’ in explosive plays. OSU mustered nine plays of 15+ yards, one less than WVU. Gordon alone had seven.

“Obviously we rushed for almost eight yards a carry,” Gundy said. “You run the ball that much, you give yourself a really good chance.”

OSU’s defense gave up 475 total yards, the second most this season behind Kansas’ 500, but surrendered no points off turnovers and forced WVU into two interceptions and two turnovers on downs. 

“We’re just trying to minimize big plays against us,” Daniels said. “It’s bad eyes, or missed placement. Just things we have to work on to be an elite defense. We’ve just got to keep winning games.”

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Sam Hutchens covers Oklahoma State sport for Sellout Crowd. He interned for The Stillwater News Press in 2021 and The Guthrie News Leader in 2022, where he won a first-place OPA award for in-depth reporting. He has also covered sports in southwest Oklahoma for The Lawton Constitution. He strives to tell you the OSU sports stories that you want to tell your friends about. You can email him at [email protected] and connect on Twitter (X) @Sam_Hutchens_

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