Head Coach Mike Gundy’s squad passed its first road test with flying colors on Friday night, finding ways to control the game on both sides of the ball. In a game that saw its share of first half lulls, the matchup between the South Alabama Jaguars and the Oklahoma State Cowboys was a one-sided affair from the mid-point of the first quarter on.
The game began as a surprising defensive battle, with both teams struggling to find the endzone. Early issues running the ball put the Cowboys in some down and distance situations that they couldn’t overcome, while South Alabama’s offensive line struggled to keep the OSU defenders from making plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Oklahoma State’s first score, a Matt Ammendola field goal halfway through the first quarter, seemed to ignite a barrage of Mason Rudolph downfield passes that began connecting with Cowboy receivers and the Pokes went into the second quarter up 17-0.
Those two scoring drives seemed to signal that Oklahoma State was off to the races in the second quarter, but the Pokes would only get another Ammendola field goal before half.
The ball changed hands only four times in the quarter, as both teams each had a drive that was over six minutes long.
Both offenses found varying amounts of success through the air during the period, with Rudolph becoming OSU’s all-time leading passer as he surpassed Brandon Weeden’s 9,260 career yards with 55 seconds left before halftime.
The Cowboy defense, however, would end the half with a dominant performance, holding USA to less than 75 yards of total offense and zero points.
Defensive playmaking for the Pokes would continue into the second half. A drive that began well enough for South Alabama to start the third quarter ended in a USA fumble at their own 43 yard line.
Four plays later, the Pokes turned the turnover into six points when Rudolph hit Marcell Ateman slanting across the middle of the field for the 20 yard TD. That touchdown appeared to end any hopes the Jaguars might have had to cut into the Cowboy’s three score lead.
Oklahoma State continued its domination of the game with a six play scoring drive that took less than two minutes and a pick-six by linebacker Justin Phillips, who snatched up a tipped Dallas Davis pass and rumbled 25 yards to the endzone.
Almost as if it were a sign of the beginning of ‘garbage time,’ late in the third quarter the scoreboard at Ladd-Peebles Stadium began to malfunction.
While most of the Cowboy starters were on the bench, backups like Keondre Wudtee and La’Darren Brown took the field and added to the rout with a 12 play, 39 yard drive that netted an extra three points for the Pokes.
South Alabama did manage to avoid getting shutout at home, capping off a drive that started off at their own 17 yard line with a touchdown pass from Davis to receiver Maaseiah Francis.
That touchdown ended up tacking on the final points either team would put on the board.
Final score: 44-7.
|3rd Down Eff||1-10||7-16|
|4th Down Eff||1-1||2-2|
|Yards Per Pass||5.6||8.3|
|USA – D. Davis||13/23||126||5.5||1||1||23.7|
|OSU – M. Rudolph||25/38||335||8.8||3||0||93.2|
|USA – X. Johnson||5||36||7.2||0||19|
|OSU – J.D. King||8||64||8.0||0||31|
|USA – J. Way||5||66||13.2||0||17|
|OSU – J. Washington||2||98||49.0||1||66|
EMPTYING THE NOTEBOOK
Its hard to overstate the degree to which Oklahoma State’s defensive line gave the undersized Jaguar offensive lines fits throughout the day. South Alabama gave up four sacks and Dallas Davis was under pressure throughout the evening. Even when the Cowboys only rushed three down lineman, double teams struggled to contain players like interior lineman Darrion Daniels, who was responsible for the tipped ball that led to the Phillips pick-six.
Mason Rudolph was the well-deserved star of the night, passing for 335 yards and averaging 8.8 yards per attempt on his way to break Brandon Weeden’s record as the OSU’s leading passer. Rudolph was in near perfect form, distributing the ball to 9 different receivers.
The one bright spot for South Alabama was probably their run defense. Even though they ended up yielding 163 yards on the ground to the Cowboys, the Jaguars largely contained the OSU rushing attack for three quarters and held Justice Hill to 2.5 yards per carry.
Cowboy linebacker Calvin Bundage was ejected for targeting at one point in the third quarter and will miss the first half of OSU’s game next week at Pitt. Since Bundage was replacing starter Kenneth Edison-McGruder, the linebacker position group will be a little thinner going into next week’s road game against their ACC opponent.
Until South Alabama’s late score, it seemed as if this game was well on its way to being a shutout. USA converted only one third down the entire night and if Oklahoma State hadn’t pulled most of their starter, they might have been the first team to keep the Jaguars scoreless in their short history as a program.