Cowboys rally for win in Ames
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.”
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.
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.