Virginia Tech was running the ball right down Oklahoma State’s throat and completely controlling the action early in the Camping World Bowl.
But everything changed on one play.
Leading 7-3, the Hokies embarked on an 18-play drive all the way down to the 1-yard line. But on that 18th and final play of the drive — a drive that spanned more than 10 minutes — Tech quarterback Josh Jackson botched an exchange with running back Steven Peoples and Oklahoma State jumped on the loose ball.
The Cowboys capitalized on the turnover with a field goal, took a 13-7 lead before halftime and never looked back in an eventual 30-21 win.
Oklahoma State got things going in the passing game in the second half. Mason Rudolph, the nation’s leader in passing yards hit DIllon Stoner for a 17-yard score on the team’s first drive of the third quarter, extending the lead to 20-7. Virginia Tech responded with a score of its own, but Rudolph later found his favorite target, fellow senior James Washington, behind the defense for a 65-yard touchdown.
Virginia Tech turned it over on downs in the red zone and turned it over on its next two drives and it looked like Oklahoma State had the game firmly in hand. But the Hokies hung around and cut the Cowboys’ lead to 27-20 on a short Jackson touchdown run with 5:40 to play.
Oklahoma State advanced to midfield but faced third-and-11 with just over three minutes to play. And instead of relying on its renowned passing attack, OSU handed the ball to sophomore running back Justice Hill, who broke off a 31-yard gain. That run allowed the Cowboys to seal the win with a 38-yard Matt Ammendola field goal.
The win gives Oklahoma State 10 wins for the third straight season and the sixth time overall under Mike Gundy. The Cowboys had College Football Playoff aspirations entering the year but were still able to send seniors like Rudolph and Washington, who became the program’s leader in receiving yards, out with a bowl win.
For Virginia Tech, it’s a disappointing outcome considering how it controlled play early. The Hokies held the ball for more than 10 minutes in the first quarter and were a yard away from taking a 14-3 lead. Instead, turnovers swung things in the other direction and gave the Hokies their fourth loss of the season.
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