May 21, 2024

Ollie Gordon, Alex Hale lead Oklahoma State to 29-21 win over Kansas State

Kansas State quarterback Will Howard (18) runs into the end zone for a 2-point conversion as Oklahoma State's Kendal Daniels, left, and Cameron Epps defend during the second half an NCAA college football game Friday, Oct. 6, 2023, in Stillwater, Okla. Oklahoma State won 29-21. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)

By CLIFF BRUNT AP Sports Writer
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Ollie Gordon ran for 136 yards and a touchdown, Alex Hale tied a school record with five made field goals and Oklahoma State defeated Kansas State 29-21 on Friday night.
Alan Bowman passed for 235 yards and redshirt freshman Cameron Epps returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown for the Cowboys (3-2, 1-1 Big 12), who snapped a two-game losing skid.
Oklahoma State had no turnovers to Kansas State’s three, did not allow a sack and held the Wildcats to one of four conversions on fourth-down attempts. The Cowboys even converted a fake punt into a first down.
“Coaches had really, really good game plans,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “And there’s times I’ve told you that our game plans weren’t very good. Really, really good game plans. It worked. Players bought in, played their butt off, played with a lot of excitement, a lot of energy.”
Kansas State’s Will Howard completed just 15 of 34 passes for 152 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. He ran for 104 yards and a score. DJ Giddens, who ran for 207 yards and four touchdowns in his previous game against Central Florida, finished with 65 yards on 16 carries for the Wildcats (3-2, 1-1).
“We’re not a very good football team right now,” Kansas State coach Chris Klieman said. “I told them that. But it starts with me.”
Oklahoma State took its opening drive 72 yards on 15 plays, and Gordon closed it with a 2-yard touchdown run to put the Cowboys up 7-0.
Oklahoma State led 10-0 early in the second quarter when Howard kept the ball and ran 70 yards to the 1-yard line. Two plays later, Howard found Ben Sinnott in the back of the end zone to trim the Cowboys’ lead to 10-7.
Epps’ 35-yard interception return for a score in the final minute of the first half gave Oklahoma State a 20-7 lead at the break. It was his second interception of the first half. Oklahoma State outgained Kansas State 287 yards to 133 before the break as Howard completed just 5 of 11 passes for 11 yards.
Hale’s 53-yard field goal early in the third quarter tied a career high for distance and put the Cowboys up 23-7.
Kansas State’s Treshaun Ward scored on an 11-yard touchdown run, and Howard ran in the 2-point conversion to cut the Cowboys’ lead to 26-15 late in the third.
Howard’s 6-yard touchdown run with 8:56 remaining made it 29-21, but his 2-point conversion pass was incomplete.
Oklahoma State failed on a fourth-and-1 with just over five minutes remaining, giving Kansas State a chance. But Howard threw his third interception of the game to Nickolas Martin at the Oklahoma State 29 to end the threat. Kansas State got the ball one last time but couldn’t get anything going.
Kansas State’s defense toughened up when the Cowboys got close and forced them to attempt six field goals. The game out to be close, even though Oklahoma State dominated much of it.
“What we have to do is figure out a way to quit kicking field goals,” Gundy said. “We’ve got to punch it in down there, come up with some concepts that give us a better chance. Kicking (making) five field goals, you would probably think you’re probably lucky to win, but it worked out defensively. Two big stops at the end.”
THE TAKEAWAY
Kansas State: Howard, who had averaged 268 yards passing per game, was shut down. Phillip Brooks, who led the Wildcats with 24 receptions through four games, had just three for 50 yards.
“He’s got to play better, and he knows it,” Klieman said of Howard. “We’ve got to put him in a better position as well.”
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys held on defensively when the offense sputtered in the second half. The Cowboys held the Wildcats to 21 points and 372 yards — well below their season averages of 39.5 points and 482.2 yards per game.
TIK TOK OR TIC TAC?
Martin had 17 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and the late interception, drawing praise from Gundy.
“One, he’s tough. He’s old-school tough. And two, he loves football. Those are two things that are hard to find nowadays in recruiting. Young men that love football, that don’t care about the side show, they don’t care about social media, they don’t care about whatever else kids nowadays care about — TikTok, Tic-Tac whatever that is. He loves football and he’s tough.”
BACK-TO-BACK
Gordon’s success came against a Kansas State team that was allowing just 73 yards rushing per game — sixth nationally. He had rushed for 121 yards against Iowa State. It was his first time posting back-to-back games with at least 100 yards rushing.
UP NEXT
Kansas State visits Texas Tech next Saturday.
Oklahoma State hosts Kansas next Saturday.