STILLWATER, Okla. – Oklahoma State's top two running backs were out with injuries. Dezmon Jackson played, and that was enough for the Cowboys.
Jackson rushed for career highs of 235 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 21 Oklahoma State beat Texas Tech 50-44 on Saturday.
Jackson had 36 carries, in part, because Chuba Hubbard and LD Brown did not play. The junior said he couldn't remember getting that many carries in any level of football.
“All week in practice, I was just running so hard just to get myself in shape with this being my first start,” he said. “Practice — it translates to the field. I wasn’t really tired today.”
Jackson said he knew early in the week that he would start.
“My roommates told me that I had been acting different because they just saw how focused I was all week," he said. "Last night, I couldn’t even sleep because I was so ready to play.”
Hubbard was out with a right ankle injury. The redshirt junior was introduced with the seniors on Senior Day. He walked onto the field during a pregame ceremony wearing his jersey without pads and a medical boot on the injured leg. Brown also has been fighting through injuries.
Still, the Cowboys ran for a season-high 317 yards, bouncing back nicely from a disappointing loss to rival Oklahoma.
Spencer Sanders passed for 222 yards and ran for 78 for Oklahoma State (6-2, 5-2), which remained in the running for a spot in the Big 12 title game. Tylan Wallace caught seven passes for 129 yards and a score.
Alan Bowman passed for 384 yards and three touchdowns for Texas Tech. Erik Ezukanma caught seven passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns, and SaRodorick Thompson ran for 133 yards and two scores.
The Red Raiders (3-6, 2-6) gained 639 yards, but Oklahoma State made up for it with a safety, an onside kick return for a touchdown and an interception return for a score.
Texas Tech took a 24-21 lead in the third quarter on a 48-yard pass from Bowman to Ezukanma. The Red Raiders went for an onside kick, but the ball bounced right to Jason Taylor, and he ran it back for a touchdown to put the Cowboys ahead again.
Texas Tech coach Matt Wells said the Cowboys had looked vulnerable to an onside kick in the first half, and the Red Raiders had been practicing against the look the Cowboys showed in the third quarter.
“We made the decision at halftime, we come out and we score and we take the lead, that’s the best time to try to do it," he said. "We just didn’t execute it well.”
Later in the quarter, Tre Sterling had a 61-yard interception return to put the Cowboys up 34-24. After Tech's Xavier White bounced off a would-be tackler and went 70 yards for a touchdown, Oklahoma State countered with Wallace's 27-yard TD reception for a 41-31 lead.
In all, five touchdowns were scored during a 5:53 stretch in the third quarter.
Bowman threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Loic Fouonji with 1:51 remaining in the fourth quarter to cut Oklahoma State's lead to 50-44, but the Red Raiders' onside kick went out of bounds.
“It’s like being in a title fight — you’re going to take a blow and you have to give one back,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. "You just try to hang on long enough so you can get the last one. Our guys found a way to come out in the end, which I was proud of them for playing well down the stretch.”
Texas Tech: A handful of mistakes by the Red Raiders proved costly. They gained more yards against the Cowboys than Oklahoma did, but Oklahoma State took advantage of Tech's mistakes.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys proved they could still win games the old-fashioned Big 12 way, with points coming in bunches on both sides. Oklahoma State had relied on its defense for much of the season, but this time, the offense carried the load.
COULD'VE HAD MORE
Jackson got loose on a fourth-down run late in the game that allowed the Cowboys to run out the clock. He was in the open field but chose to go down at the Texas Tech 4-yard line rather than score.
“I would have recommended scoring right there and kicking off because it’s a two-score game,” Gundy said. "So that was a surprise to me. But I was certainly glad I saw him pop through the line on a fourth-and-1.”
STERLING’S BIG DAY
Sterling had a big day for Oklahoma State. In addition to his interception return for a TD, he collected nine tackles, two fumble recoveries, 1.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup.
Oklahoma State is scheduled to play at TCU next Saturday.
Texas Tech is scheduled to host Kansas next Saturday.
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