The Oklahoma State University football team utilized a dominating opening half and held off a late surge from the University of Washington to take home a 30-22 victory at the TicketCity Cactus Bowl on Friday evening in Tempe, Ariz.
The Cowboys (7-6, 4-5 Big 12) opened up a 24-0 lead through 30 minutes of action and did just enough to hold on at Sun Devil Stadium, despite being outscored 22-6 in the second half.
Desmond Roland finished with 123 yards on the ground for OSU, earning Offensive MVP honors, and playing a pivotal role in OSU outgaining the Huskies with 473 total yards of offense to just 369.
Mason Rudolph had 299 yards and two touchdowns on 17-of-26 passing with an interception while Brandon Sheperd added 98 yards through the air with a touchdown reception to help key the Cowboys’ multi-faceted offense.
In a game that featured the coldest kickoff temperature (45 degrees) in Cactus Bowl history, the announced 35,409 in attendance sat through temperatures that started dipping close to freezing in a contest that saw Washington (8-6, 4-5 Pac-12) keep things interesting after a slow start. The Huskies closed things within a single possession with 3:29 remaining in the contest on a Jaydon Mickens 16-yard touchdown reception from Miles and a successful two-point pass conversion from Miles to Deontae Cooper.
The Cowboys looked to have things in the bag, however, following a 48-yard third-down reception by defensive lineman James Castleman to set up a 27-yard Ben Grogan field goal attempt on the following drive. The score would have made it a two-possession game with under a minute left, but the attempt was hooked wide left to give UW one final gasp.
The hope was short-lived, however, as Kevin Peterson picked off Cyler Miles with five seconds remaining in the game to seal the victory for the Cowboys.
Seth Jacobs earned Defensive MVP honors with eight tackles, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. The OSU defense had eight tackles for loss in the contest.
After being thoroughly dominated in the first half (gaining only 108 total yards of offense), Washington opened the second half with seven-play, 82-yard drive to get on the board to climb back within 24-7 following a 31-yard Jaydon Mickens rushing touchdown.
Oklahoma State would add a 27-yard Grogan field goal with 1:47 remaining in the third but Washington wouldn’t go quietly into the night, as John Ross returned ensuing 96 yards to the house – the longest kick return in Cactus Bowl history – to bring UW back within 27-14.
Mickens’ second touchdown of the game made things interested, but the Washington offense just couldn’t muster one final drive at the end of regulation.
Miles finished with 268 yards and a touchdown on 25-of-38 passing with only the interception at the end of regulation against his credit. Mickens finished with 113 total yards (31 rushing, 82 receiving) to pace the Husky offense.
The Cowboys drew first blood in the contest, driving 84 yards on 11 plays on the opening drive of the game and taking a 7-0 lead on a bruising goal line run up the gut by defensive tackle James Castleman – his first rush and first touchdown of the season.
Oklahoma State was able to withstand the storm of back-to-back turnovers on the ensuing drives. The Huskies forced a Rudolph fumble on the OSU 28-yard line, but could not cash in, as Cameron Van Winkle’s 43-yard field goal attempt clanked off the left upright.
It took just three plays for Washington to regain possession as Budda Baker reeled in a long interception by Rudolph, deep in UW territory.
The Huskies were unable to capitalize and OSU made them pay on the following drive, heading 84 yards down the field on the next drive – including a nifty double pass play – with Rudolph finding James Washington on a 28-yard strike late in the first quarter to give the Cowboys a 14-0 edge.
After adding a field goal in the second quarter, Oklahoma State ended the first half with a 47-yard TD pass from Rudolph to Brandon Shepherd, giving the Cowboys a 24-0 lead heading into the locker room.