waco, texas: oklahoma state quarterback spencer sanders made more than a few big plays in the ninth-ranked cowboys 36-25 win over world no. 16 baylor on saturday at mclane stadium.
huge pitches. dazzling races.
But his biggest moment might have come when the redshirted senior should have been in lookout mode on a running play by true rookie ollie gordon.
but when baylor defenseman christian morgan’s helmet punctured gordon’s left side, he sent the ball back toward sanders.
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the quarterback dove head first to secure the ball. Two plays later, the Cowboys kicked a field goal for a two-run lead, 36-25.
With a chaotic start to the Big 12 season, Saturday’s victory was a strong early statement for an Osu team that is hopeful of getting back into the Big 12 title game again this season.
sanders finished with 181 passing yards and 75 rushing yards, and two total touchdowns.
“He played well,” said osu head coach mike gundy. “He converts a lot of plays with his legs. What he brings to the table is that he can convert first downs and keep the chains moving with his legs.
“spencer is a competitive guy, now. for some reason, people don’t give him enough credit.”
Junior running back Dominic Richardson didn’t post amazing stats, but his tough run, particularly between the tackles, where Baylor’s defense is strongest, was pivotal.
richardson finished with 73 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown.
Here are four more takeaways from the Cowboys’ victory:
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Oklahoma State hadn’t intercepted a pass since the season opener, but a pair of safeties had interceptions in the fourth quarter to help close out the game.
thomas harper intercepted a pass near midfield and returned it to the baylor 28-yard line, setting up a cowboy field goal for the 36-25 lead.
It was Harper’s second career interception and first of the season.
“doing your job, sometimes the ball just hits you in the face,” osu defensive coordinator derek mason said. “You don’t have to make a spectacular play. Sometimes being in the right place at the right time will make plays.”
on baylor’s next drive, with the bears moving down the field, jason taylor ii stood in front of a deep throw from quarterback blake shapen. Taylor caught the pass and barely dropped a foot when his momentum carried him out of bounds with 2:55 left.
the cowboys took most of the time and forced baylor to use all of his timeouts in the next series.
Taylor has shown a knack for big plays at key moments, like his fumble return touchdown in a close win at Kansas State two years ago, his blocked field goal at Boise State and his pick-six at Texas last season.
“He’s greedy,” Mason said. “He showed the hands that he has, the range that he has. he’s got great skill on the ball, and what I think is as he continues to get comfortable with the guys around him, you’re going to see him continue to make plays, because he knows what can do and what not.”
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bryson green concentration
Sophomore wide receiver Bryson Green had two crucial receptions, one for a touchdown and one for a field goal.
in osu’s first advance of the game, green got ahead of his man on a play of 3 and 4 from baylor’s 8. He jumped for Sanders pass, dodged it at first, but caught it before landing in the end zone for the score.
In the third quarter, Osu made a tricky play with slot catcher John Paul Richardson taking the ball in reverse and then preparing to throw deep. he threw the ball behind a wide-open green, who adjusted and shot the shot, getting his left foot in bounds just before his right knee went out of bounds at the 2-yard line. p>
osu couldn’t hit in the end zone, but kicked a field goal for a 30-17 lead.
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Oklahoma State special teams units put up multiple key plays on Saturday.
facing a fourth-and-4 at baylor 39, osu chose to punt rather than go deep.
punt tom hutton sent a punt to the right corner of the field, where true freshman wide receiver braylin presley was waiting, catching the ball down to the 2-yard line.
on the next play, baylor quarterback blake shapen threw to richard reese, who was forced into the end zone by defensive end brock martin, setting up a tackle by kendal daniels for a safety and a 9-3 lead.
The cowboy special teams came up with another big play to start the third quarter. Redshirt freshman running back Jaden Nixon took the kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown for a 23-3 lead. nixon slid through a hole in the middle of the field, stumbled but kept his balance, then sprinted past the bears into the end zone.
“All I was thinking was, keep your feet,” said Brennan Presley, whom Nixon had replaced as kick returner on that play. “I know if he gets in front of you, you’re not catching him. We just talked about going out there and starting the half right, getting a touchdown and trying to get a 14-point swing. Once he did that, it went from there.” it was all emotion.”
It was the third special teams touchdown for the Cowboys in the last two games.
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Going into the game, Baylor was tied for seventh nationally in total fourth-down attempts with 11 through four games. the bears had converted seven of them.
With the Cowboys leading 9-3 in the second quarter, Baylor had entered the USO 10 before meeting in 1st quarter and 1 in 7th.
Running to the left, it looked like Reese had the field open for the first down and maybe a touchdown. but osu linebacker mason cobb slipped off a block and dropped reese for no gain and a turnover on downs.