Cow­boys rally for win in Ames

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - OU POSTGAME -

Ok­la­homa State scored points in bunches on Satur­day against Iowa State, but the Cow­boys needed a fourthquar­ter, game-clinch­ing in­ter­cep­tion by A.J. Green to seal the vic­tory.

If you were only watch­ing the cov­er­age, the play looked like a dis­as­ter from the start, al­most to the fin­ish.

Ok­la­homa State faced third-and-22 at the Iowa State 30-yard line, and thanks to stel­lar pro­tec­tion from his of­fen­sive line, Ma­son Ru­dolph was able to drift out of the pocket and scan the field full of cov­ered re­ceivers.

“Might as well throw it up to the big boy,” Ru­dolph said of his touch­down pass to 6-foot-4 se­nior Mar­cell Ate­man, who went up over two de­fend­ers and pulled the ball down.

It wasn’t the gamewin­ning play in No. 15 OSU’s 49-42 vic­tory on Satur­day at No. 21 Iowa State’s Jack Trice Stadium.

But it was the game­sav­ing play.

If not for Ate­man’s catch, there would be no Jus­tice Hill two-point con­ver­sion, no Dil­lon Stoner go-ahead touch­down, no A.J. Green game-clinch­ing in­ter­cep­tion.

“I didn’t think there was a chance in the world we were gonna get a com­ple­tion,” coach Mike

Gundy said of Ate­man’s catch as the play came to­gether on the op­po­site side of the field. “I couldn’t see all the way over there. It had to be a fan­tas­tic catch.

“It looked like a 3-point shot had gone off and there was two guys un­der the goal jock­ey­ing for a re­bound. Smart move on (Ru­dolph’s) part, and heck of a play by (Ate­man).”

Of course, that touch­down only brought the Cow­boys within 42-40.

Ru­dolph tried twice more to con­nect with Ate­man on the two­point con­ver­sion, but both times, 5-foot-9 Iowa State de­fen­sive back Brian Peavy was called for de­fen­sive hold­ing.

That moved the Cow­boys in­side the 1, and Hill took a wildcat snap in for the ty­ing points.

After forc­ing a quick punt, OSU went back down the field and scored the game-win­ner when Dil­lon Stoner made the big­gest catch of his ca­reer, tak­ing a screen pass 19 yards.

Ate­man had the Cow­boys’ first TD of the day, on an­other well-placed pass by Ru­dolph, hit­ting Ate­man per­fectly as his

long strides car­ried him across the back of the end zone.

“We need to put in for a raise in ticket prices to come watch us play,” Gundy joked. “We definitely give ev­ery­body their money’s worth.”

The de­fense boosted the ex­cite­ment level, too. Sev­eral costly penal­ties — the 15-yard kind at the most in­op­por­tune times — kept Iowa State mov­ing, even though it was down to yet an­other backup quar­ter­back, fresh­man Zeb Noland, after walk-on starter Kyle Kempt left with an in­jury.

Ok­la­homa State’s star re­ceiver James Wash­ing­ton was es­sen­tially rel­e­gated to de­coy sta­tus, catch­ing only one pass for 25 yards, of­ten cov­ered by two de­fend­ers, and with a third pre­pared to help on oc­ca­sion.

Yet like he did on a third-down catch in the fi­nal min­utes at Texas Tech a month ago, Ate­man made a catch that only he could make, en­tan­gled in traf­fic, when his team had to have it.

And like his catch at Tech, it didn’t win the game. But it kept Ok­la­homa State out of a dire hole.

“Once he threw it, I knew I had to go up and make a play,” Ate­man said. “I just went up for it and had to make a play.”

[AP PHOTO]

Ok­la­homa State quar­ter­back Ma­son Ru­dolph cel­e­brates with fans and team­mates as he walks off the field Satur­day in Ames, Iowa. Ru­dolph had an­other stel­lar game, throw­ing for 376 yards and three touch­downs.

Scott Wright swright@ ok­la­homan.com

OSU FOOTBALL

[AP PHOTO]

Ok­la­homa State wide re­ceiver Mar­cell Ate­man catches a 30-yard touch­down pass over Iowa State de­fend­ers D’An­dre Payne, cen­ter, and Ka­mari Cot­ton-Moya dur­ing the sec­ond half Satur­day in Ames, Iowa.

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