Big plays boost OSU win over West Virginia
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Sunday, November 11, 2012
11/11/12 at 5:49 AM
STILLWATER - Clint Chelf and Josh Stewart were obvious heroes in Oklahoma State's 55-34 victory Saturday over West Virginia.
Chelf, who began the season as OSU's third-team quarterback, made his first career start and hit 22-of-31 passes for 292 yards and four touchdowns.
Stewart recorded career-highs in catches (13), receiving yards (172) and touchdowns (3). The sophomore receiver scored twice on receptions and once on a 46-yard reverse.
But big plays on special teams gave the Cowboys an opportunity to lead the potent Mountaineers from start-to-finish and Mike Gundy's team owned the fourth quarter, outscoring the Big 12 newcomers 14-0 in the final stanza to improve to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in league play. OSU's defense got four consecutive stops at game's end.
Gundy said all three phases - offense, defense, special teams - contributed to a victory that made OSU bowl-eligible.
Added the coach, "I thought our special teams were the difference. Their offense made plays and our offense made plays and I think special teams gave us the advantage."
OSU won by 21 points and got 17 courtesy of special teams. Justin Gilbert returned a kickoff 96 yards for a score. And this was a day when the ball absolutely bounced the Cowboys' way. Twice, balls hit the turf at Boone Pickens Stadium and ricocheted off Mountaineer return men.
"We made junior-high mistakes," West Virginia coach and former OSU offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen said after his 5-4 team dropped a fourth consecutive game. "When you make junior-high mistakes, you're not going to win very many games."
OSU recovered the muffs inside the red zone and used the "extra" possessions to get a 26-yard Quinn Sharp field goal and a 12-yard touchdown drive.
"We had a bunch of hustle plays," Sharp said. "To get two turnovers on special teams was huge for us."
On the first of the wacky bounces, a Sharp kickoff into the wind was short and bounced high in the air before clipping Andrew Buie and ping-ponging off Tavon Austin's foot. Nico Ornelas won a scramble for a loose ball and Teddy Johnson later pounced on a punt that bounced into Austin as he was signaling for teammates to stay away.
"When the ball is coming at you like that, when it's screaming at that pace, you don't know if it's going to stay down low or if it's going to pop up," Sharp said. "It's kind of like a weird ground ball in the infield if it (hits) a rock or something."
The last of the special teams gifts allowed OSU to lead 38-24 at 10:19 of the third quarter. And things got dicey after that.
West Virginia scored 10 points in a 38-second span of the third quarter, getting a field goal and a 1-yard Geno Smith touchdown run after Chelf's only big mistake (a pass bounced off intended receiver Charlie Moore and was returned 42 yards to the 1 by Mountaineers linebacker Terence Garvin).
OSU led by only seven points after three quarters and West Virginia had possession with an opportunity to drive for a tying score.
On the first play of the fourth quarter came a possible turning point. On a third-and-5 play originating from the OSU 45, Smith lofted a deep ball toward Austin. Daytawion Lowe broke up the play and West Virginia punted.
Chelf drove OSU 80 yards for a score that was capped by a 20-yard pass to Stewart, whose dive over the pylon was upheld after a replay review.
Stewart's touchdown gave OSU a 48-34 lead with 12:05 remaining. Holgorsen gambled and lost on his team's subsequent possession. The Mountaineers faced fourth-and-6 at their 39 and, when Smith couldn't find anybody open, he threw a short pass that was knocked down by Cowboy linebacker Shaun Lewis.
OSU took over on downs and, three plays later, Jeremy Smith bolted 21 yards for a touchdown to give Mike Gundy's team a 21-point lead with 9:50 remaining. And the Cowboys could finally breathe easy, except that Bill Young didn't.
"As a coach, it seemed like it was a dogfight every single play," OSU's defensive coordinator said. "It was so hard to relax because you knew (West Virginia) was capable of scoring in a second."
West Virginia outgained OSU 479-443. Smith, a former Heisman frontrunner, threw for 364 yards and receiver Stedman Bailey caught 14 balls for 225 yards. Their statistical achievements were overshadowed on a day when OSU achieved a good-enough-in-all-phases triumph.
OSU UP NEXT
Vs. Texas Tech
2:30 p.m Saturday
Radio: KFAQ am1170
Original Print Headline: Big plays bolster big OSU triumph
Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389
OSU quarterback Clint Chelf passes as Brandon Webb fends off West Virginia's Josh Francis. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World
With West Virginia defenders trailing, OSU's Justin Gilbert returns a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter Saturday. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World