STILLWATER, Okla. — For most of the day, it felt like Oklahoma State had no business beating Texas.
Yet when a tipped pass floated into the arms of Cowboy safety Kendal Daniels, the 11th-ranked Pokes had secured a 41-34 win over the No. 21 Longhorns on a homecoming Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Daniels’ pick was the third of the day for OSU off Texas freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers.
OSU quarterback Spencer Sanders, playing with a nagging shoulder injury, threw a career-high 57 passes, completing 34 for 391 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cowboys trailed by as many as 14 — including a 10-point deficit late in the third quarter — and faced several injuries, but rallied behind a slew of critical plays from unexpected places. Four receivers had at least 60 receiving yards.
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The Cowboy defense seemingly couldn’t make a stop in the first half as OSU fell behind 31-24 at the half. But Texas managed only a field goal in the second half, and the Pokes had interceptions on the last two Texas possessions.
Texas was 3-of-17 on third down and 0-of-2 on fourth down.
Additionally, Texas was penalized 14 times for 119 yards. OSU was not penalized once.
Here are four more takeaways from the Cowboys’ rally for victory:
With the position dealing with multiple injuries, OSU receivers Bryson Green, John Paul Richardson and Stephon Johnson Jr. emerged in critical situations.
Johnson, a true freshman, made the first start of his career and made multiple key plays.
Richardson has shown himself as a valuable playmaker in tight situations, and did so again on Saturday.
And Green had a career day capped off by a 41-yard touchdown catch in which he broke free of what appeared to be a sure tackle, then sprinted for the end zone.
Jason Taylor, Playmaker
Oklahoma State safety Jason Taylor II bookended the day with a pair of interceptions.
The redshirt senior intercepted Ewers on the first possession of the game, leading to an OSU field goal.
Then, with the Cowboys clinging to a 41-34 lead, Taylor picked off Ewers on a fourth-down throw with less than two minutes to go. He appeared to suffer a lower leg injury on the play.
That makes three interceptions for Taylor on the season, and three in two games against Texas in the last two seasons. Taylor had an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown that kickstarted the Cowboys’ rally in Austin last season.
Shaky special teams
OSU has heavily relied on its special teams play in tight wins this season, but Saturday was a different story.
The Cowboys had a punt blocked and struggled to tackle on kick and punt coverage. Punter Tom Hutton also had a punt bounce into the end zone for a touchback, his first of the season and just the 11th of his career in 225 attempts.
And to cap it off, Oklahoma State placekicker Tanner Brown missed a field goal attempt for the first time this season.
Brown made a 48-yard field goal in the first quarter, his 13th of the season in 13 attempts. He had made 16 straight overall dating back to the Fiesta Bowl.
But Brown’s streak ended on the final play of the first half, when he pulled a 48-yarder to the left with the Cowboys trailing by a touchdown.
Brown bounced back with a 40-yard field goal in the third quarter, cutting a 10-point Texas lead to seven.
For his career, Brown is 31-of-36 after transferring to the Cowboys as a walk-on from UNLV in 2021.
Cowboys without several starters
Oklahoma State was without starters at five positions against Texas on Saturday, though quarterback was not one of them.
Sanders played once again, despite battling ongoing shoulder pain.
At receiver, starter Braydon Johnson and backup Jaden Bray — the likely replacement for Johnson — were out. Center Preston Wilson remains out after suffering a lower leg injury two weeks ago. He was replaced by Joe Michalski.
On defense, tackle Brendon Evers announced earlier this week he will not play the rest of the season. Injuries have hampered him all year. Defensive end Brock Martin was inactive with a left foot injury.
Additionally, safety Thomas Harper missed the game. To adjust, OSU shifted starting cornerback Jabbar Muhammad to the cover safety spot Harper usually mans. Korie Black and Cam Smith started at cornerback.
Multiple players exited during the game with injuries as well, including running back Dominic Richardson, who had three rushing touchdowns in the first half.