The victory capped the Cowboys third consecutive 10-win season. It’s the first time in the 116 year history of Oklahoma State football that they’ve accomplished that feat.
Camping World Bowl Recap
Virginia Tech, for most of the game, executed their game plan to perfection: control the clock and keep Oklahoma State’s prolific offense off the field. What the Hokies didn’t plan for, however, was turnovers in the redzone that the Cowboys turned into points.
Oklahoma State opened the first quarter scoring on its first possession with a Matt Ammendola field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.
Virginia Tech responded with a 14-yard rushing touchdown from redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Jackson to put the Hokies in front 7-3. This capped an eight-play, four-minute drive highlight by a big third down completion to junior wide receiver Henri Murphy.
After Oklahoma State was forced to punt, Virginia Tech marched all the way down to the Cowboys one yard line.
On 18-play drive spanning over 10 minutes, the Hokies looked to take extend their advantage in the second quarter.
What happened next changed the game.
Instead of Virginia Tech scoring their second first half touchdown, a botched handoff between Jackson and junior running back Steven Peoples was recovered by Oklahoma State.
The Cowboys capitalized on the turnover with another field goal to reduce the lead to 7-6.
Sophomore running back Justice Hill scored on one-yard rushing touchdown near the end of the half to put Oklahoma State back in front 13-7. The drive only took 39 seconds and showed the Cowboys quick strike ability.
Although Oklahoma State’s offense was held in check for much of the first half, they turned it on in the third quarter.
Virginia Tech returned the favor with a touchdown of their own. Josh Jackson hit sophomore wide receiver Eric Kumah for a 9-yard score to cut the lead to 20-14.
Oklahoma State continued its offensive assault with a 65-yard touchdown strike from Rudolph to senior wide receiver James Washington. It’s the fifth time this year the two have connected on a score of 65 yards or more.
With the Cowboys leading 27-14 in the fourth quarter, Virginia Tech looked to trade scores again. A bad snap on Oklahoma State’s 11-yard line resulted in a sack ending the Hokies touchdown hopes.
Virginia Tech had yet another chance in Oklahoma State territory, but Jackson was intercepted by senior cornerback Darius Curry. That all but summed up the Hokies night on offense.
The Hokies did, however, score late in the fourth quarter on five-yard run from Jackson. It was too late at that point.
Oklahoma State answered with their third field of the game to put them in front for good at 30-21. The score was set up by Hill’s 31-yard run on third-and-11. Virginia Tech expected pass, but Oklahoma State relied on the Big 12’s leading rusher to seal the win.
Virginia Tech’s final possession ended with a failed Hail Mary attempt as Jackson was looking for Kumah in the endzone. The Hokies missed opportunities in the redzone cost them the game.
In a game where many thought Oklahoma State’s offense would be the difference, it was the defense that proved to be the decider.
Although Virginia Tech had almost 20 more minutes of possession, two turnovers in scoring position was all Oklahoma State needed to make them pay.
The Cowboys potent offense racked up 488 total yards, with 351 yards passing and 137 yards rushing.
“A really good win for our organization,” said Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy to ESPN. “Defensively, we gave up a lot of rushing yards but we were able to make some stops and force some turnovers. For Oklahoma State, really in the end, that’s what it comes down to.”
Mason Rudolph won game MVP honors after throwing for 351 yards and two touchdowns. He ended his outstanding career breaking Brandon Weeden’s school records for most passing yards in a season (4,904) and passing yards per game (377.2). He also tied Weeden for most touchdown passes in a year (37).
Biletnikoff Award winner James Washington finished with five catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns. He passed Rashaun Woods for most receiving yards in Oklahoma State history with 4,472.
Marcell Ateman, Oklahoma State’s “other” wide receiver, had five receptions for 107 yards including a 50-yard catch that set up a Cowboys score.
Justice Hill provided a solid effort on the ground rushing for 120 yards with one touchdown.
Sophomore Matt Ammendola was perfect on all three field goal and extra point attempts. His longest kick was from 38-yards out.
Back to the Drawing Board
Virginia Tech had the recipe for success against Oklahoma State’s dynamic attack.
They led in time of possession (38:13) and total yards (518), but the Hokies repeatedly shot themselves in the foot.
The defense didn’t help either, allowing several explosive plays to Oklahoma State’s top playmakers.
“We had a plan and we executed well at times,” stated Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente to ESPN. “I don’t really remember Oklahoma State making very many, if any, mistakes. And we made a handful, just enough to kind of keep us from pulling the thing off. That’s not to say that Oklahoma State doesn’t deserve credit for winning the game. They do.”
Josh Jackson did as much as he could without his main targets Travon McMillian and Cam Phillips. He finished with 248 yards passing with one touchdown and one interception. He added 50 yards on the ground with two scores.
Sophomore Deshawn McClease was the Hokies best ground weapon, rushing for 124 yards on 18 carries and averaging almost seven yards per carry. Steven Peoples added 56 rushing yards on ten carries.
The trio of Eric Kumah, freshman Hezekiah Grimsley, and sophomore Phil Patterson led Virginia Tech through the air. Kumah had five catches for 72 yards and one touchdown; Grimsley finished with five receptions for 63 yards; and Patterson ended with seven catches for 59 yards.
On defense, sophomore safety Reggie Floyd and senior linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka led the way. Floyd had seven tackles; while Motuapuaka finished with seven tackles, with one tackle for loss, and one pass deflection.
Senior Joey Slye converted on all three extra point attempts.
The Cowboys open their 2018 season against FCS foe Missouri State on September 1st in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
With Rudolph, Washington, and Ateman headed to the NFL, Oklahoma State will have to replace most of their 2017 production. Justice Hill does return, however, to give the Cowboys a strong running game to rely on next season.
On defense, Oklahoma State loses four starters. With their susceptibility for giving up a lot of points and yards, the Cowboys have their work cut out for them if they want to win the Big 12 for the first time since 2011.
The Hokies open their 2018 season with a conference game against Florida State on September 3rd in Tallahassee, Florida.
As most of the offense returns, Virginia Tech is in prime position to make a run in a weak coastal division. Josh Jackson should continue to progress and put himself in the discussion for the ACC’s top quarterback.
On defense, the Hokies will need to replace their excellent cornerback tandem of Greg Stroman and Brandon Facyson. With Bud Foster at the helm, there’s little doubt that Virginia Tech can continue its defensive dominance next season.