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Cowboys Survive Mid-Major Scare

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Last time the Oklahoma State football team went on the road to take on a mid-major was in 2007 when the Cowboys were upset by Troy. After that game, OSU had to make the long journey back home knowing they failed to meet expectations.

After a brief scare and a valiant effort by Central Michigan in front of its home crowd, Oklahoma State was able to dodge disaster this time around and hold on for a 24-13 victory.

The Cowboys put their final stamp on the game with 9:20 left in the fourth quarter when quarterback Mason Rudolph connected with receiver Marcell Ateman for an 18-yard touchdown that put OSU up 24-13. The touchdown marked the only one through the air from the Cowboys on the night, and in the end proved to put the Chippewas out of reach.

In a game where Oklahoma State was a heavy favorite, there was never a sense that the Cowboys were in total control until that Ateman touchdown reception.

Oklahoma State looked rusty from the opening kickoff, but still held a 10-6 lead after two quarters. Despite being up by four points, it was nearly time for the Cowboys to hit the panic button after Central Michigan came out of halftime on a tear.  

Quarterback Cooper Rush led the Chippewas on a flawless drive to start the third quarter, and eventually capped it off with a 16-yard touchdown run. The veteran signal caller trucked over Oklahoma State cornerback Ramon Richards at the goal line to find pay dirt, and gave CMU a 13-10 lead with 11:17 left in the third frame.

Fortunately for the Cowboys, they have a pretty good quarterback of their own in Rudolph, and the sophomore was more than ready with a response.

After a slow first half where the Cowboys’ offense looked to be playing too conservatively, Rudolph found his groove and connected with receiver David Glidden for two completions of 20-plus yards before capping off the electric drive with a rushing touchdown. The 21-yard scamper with 9:38 left in the third was Rudolph’s first rushing touchdown in an OSU uniform, and more importantly gave the Cowboys a 17-13 lead they’d never relinquish.

Despite only passing for one more yard than the Chippewas, Oklahoma State totaled 153 rushing yards compared to Central Michigan’s 78 on the ground.

Part of that run differential was due to running back Chris Carson, who showed brief flashes of greatness in his Oklahoma State debut. The junior college transfer rushed for 89 yards, but made sure everyone in the stadium new his name before the clock ticked down to zero. Central Michigan was able to keep Carson out of the end zone, but the junior had a few memorable runs where he displayed his elusive running ability that Cowboy fans everywhere have been thirsting to see.

The Cowboys will be happy with the win, but Oklahoma State let some key scoring opportunities slip by. On Oklahoma State’s first defensive possession, cornerback Tre Flowers intercepted a Cooper Rush pass to put the Cowboys on the Central Michigan 11-yard line. Despite the short field to work with, the Cowboys failed to score a touchdown and had to settle with a Ben Grogan 22-yd field goal that gave OSU an early 3-0 lead.

After Central Michigan tied up the game at 3-3 with 2:51 left in the first, Oklahoma State fans has their first J.W. Walsh sighting of the season. The senior, who’s previously started at quarterback for the Cowboys, entered the game for a one-yard touchdown run. Walsh’s touchdown finished off a 47-yard Oklahoma State drive, and it was interesting to see him used in a formation similar to one that the University of Oklahoma ran with Blake Bell.

Another thing Oklahoma State fans were excited to see entering the season was the play of the defense. The unit, led by coordinator Glenn Spencer, had some positive moments on the defensive front, despite a suspect night by the secondary without starting cornerback Kevin Peterson, who was suited up on the sidelines but was held out. Emmanuel Ogbah, Jimmy Bean and Vincent Taylor all recorded sacks for the Cowboys, while also causing havoc for the CMU offense all night.

Rudolph ended the night with 266 yards and one touchdown through the air while completing 22 of his 32 pass attempts. Ateman added 75 receiving yards to go with his touchdown reception while Glidden totaled 71 receiving yards of his own. Glidden also appeared to be Rudolph’s safety blanket and made numerous big plays for the Cowboys.

Oklahoma State will be back in action next Saturday at home when they take on Central Arkansas (0-1). Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.

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