Playing at home against a third-string quarterback is usually a recipe for success. What about a fourth-string QB who is actually listed as a wide receiver?
Despite a heroic effort from Kansas State WR/QB Kody Cook, Mason Rudolph and the Cowboys pulled out a wild 36-34 win on Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium.
KSU’s quarterback duties were supposed to be Joe Hubener’s. But the junior, third-stringer got knocked out of the game on the opening drive when OSU’s Tre Flowers flattened him on a slide attempt. In sports, you often hear the term “emergency (insert position here)” to describe a situation that will almost assuredly never arrive. But on Saturday, KSU coach Bill Snyder faced an emergency.
That’s when Snyder called on Cook, a former JUCO quarterback and wide receiver on the Cats’ roster, to lead the troops. And lead he did.
Cook led the Cats right down the field on their opening drive and ran it in from three yards out for a 7-0 lead.
The Cowboys answered back when Mason Rudolph found James Washington on a slant, and the sophomore receiver did the rest. Washington spun off of a tackler and blasted off to the end zone for a 32-yard score.
But Cook came right back. The OSU defense couldn’t figure out this wrinkle one bit, and Cook took advantage. Cook capped an 11-play, 74-yard drive with a four-yard pass to Glenn Gronkowski to put KSU up 14-7.
The Pokes got back in the end zone when J.W. Walsh found Jalen McClesky for a four-yard hookup. But Ben Grogan’s extra point was blocked and the Cowboys missed out on a huge point.
Cook and the Wildcats surged back down the field on the ensuing possession. Cook found Deante Burton for a 17-yard touchdown to cap a 75-yard drive that took just a little more than two minutes. OSU coughed it up on the first play of its next possession. Rudolph had a lateral batted down and Kansas State pounced on it, giving Cook and the offense the ball at the OSU six.
Justin Silmon ran it in on the very next play to put KSU up 28-13.
OSU responded with a touchdown before the half when Rudolph found Marcell Ateman from 11 yards out. The Cowboys entered the locker room down eight, but emerged as a different team, especially defensively.
Glenn Spencer’s defensive unit seemingly adjusted to Kansas State’s wildcat offense, and the Pokes pitched a shutout for most of the rest of the night.
OSU got closer when Raymond Taylor plunged in from a yard out with seven minutes to go in the third, but the two-point conversion failed, leaving the deficit at two. The defense continued to solve Cook’s riddles, which bought the Pokes’ offense enough time to find a way to take the lead. With 6:06 to play in the fourth, Rudolph threw his third TD of the day, this time to Brandon Sheperd for a three-yard score and a 33-28 lead.
The Cowboys were one stop away from a win when Cook was forced to leave the game with a shoulder injury. Fortunately for the Cats, Hubener was able to return and lift his team. Hubener ran it in from five yards out to cap a seven-play, 94-yard drive to put KSU back on top. The two-pointer failed, so with three minutes remaining, OSU needed a field goal to win it.
On the first series of the ensuing drive, OSU was immediately faced with a fourth-and-eight, but Rudolph found David Glidden to keep the drive, game and unbeaten season alive. The Cowboys promptly moved into position for Grogan to be the hero. From the KSU 20, and with the ball aligned right between the hashes, Grogan belted a 37-yarder right down broadway to give the Pokes the win.
Grogan got to walk off the field as the hero for the second straight week. He drilled the game-tying kick late in the fourth quarter, then the game-winner on the next drive last Saturday at Texas.
OSU (5-0, 2-0) played without its top two running backs, Chris Carson and Rennie Childs, both out with injuries. That left Taylor as the No. 1 option, and he responded with 35 yards and his one score. OSU ran for just 49 yards on 27 carries.
Rudolph’s 437 yards and three touchdowns saved the day. Ateman and Washington both reached the century mark for receiving yards and each found the end zone once. Glidden caught eight balls for 83 yards.
Cook finished with 122 passing yards, 87 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. The Wildcats (3-1, 0-1) host TCU next Saturday.
OSU’s comeback snapped KSU coach Bill Snyder’s 49-game win streak when leading at the half. The Cowboys head to West Virginia next Saturday.