STILLWATER, Okla. — There were 154 snaps taken in Texas’ 49-31 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday. Here are five that ended up making a big difference:
1. Cowboy Justice
Oklahoma State freshman Justice Hill rushed for 135 yards in the 18-point win, and the Big 12’s reigning newcomer of the week (Hill also hit the 100-yard mark in a loss to Baylor on Sept. 24) needed only two carries to get into the end zone and make an early statement for the Cowboys. Hill’s 30-yard touchdown run was the longest of Oklahoma State’s 43 rushing attempts. He shook off tackle attempts by Brandon Jones and Anthony Wheeler on the play, and then scored when safety Kevin Vaccaro was unable to stop him on the Texas sideline.
Texas has now seen the other team score on the opening possession of the game for the third time in four games.
2. Rejected on special teams
After falling into a 14-0 hole, Texas responded with a pair of touchdown runs from Tyrone Swoopes and D’Onta Foreman. The Longhorns were one Trent Domingue extra point away from tying it up 14-14 after Foreman’s 22-yard scoring run, but Oklahoma State blocked the point-after attempt and returned the football for a two-point conversion. The three-point swing was the beginning of a trend: Oklahoma State blocked three of Texas’ extra-point kicks.
3. Timeout, Texas
Texas and Oklahoma State exchanged the lead four times in the second quarter, and the Cowboys held a 30-25 advantage in the half’s waning moments. Attempting to get the ball back to his offense, Texas coach Charlie Strong called a timeout after Charles Omenihu’s first-down sack backed Oklahoma State to its 9 with 1:27 left. The Cowboys, though, regrouped and scored with 31 seconds remaining on Mason Rudolph’s 52-yard pass to Jalen McCleskey.
McCleskey’s second score in a five-minute span — he also had a 36-yard touchdown catch with 5:05 to go — was the highlight of the seven-play drive, but the Cowboys made it to near midfield on an 18-yard run by Hill and Chris Lacy’s 17-yard catch. The 52-yard connection between Rudolph and McCleskey was Oklahoma State’s second-longest play of the game, and it boosted the Cowboys to a 37-25 halftime lead.
4. Inopportune interception
With the football at its 7, Texas opened its second drive of the second half with its 18-Wheeler package. Texas gained no yards in its first two plays, so Shane Buechele replaced Swoopes on the obvious throwing down. Buechele, though, threw his third interception of the season, and Jordan Sterns returned it to the Texas 1. Two plays later, the Cowboys went up 43-25 lead on a 1-yard plunge by Oklahoma State running back Barry J. Sanders, the graduate transfer from Stanford and son of Hall of Fame running back — and Oklahoma State Heisman Trophy winner — Barry Sanders.
It was Buechele’s third interception of the season. Two of them have come when the freshman has been inserted by mid-drive substitution. Offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert, though, downplayed that significance.
“It’s still growth with him,” Gilbert said. “He’s just got to learn and just got to see some things.”
5. First fourth-down failure
Foreman’s second touchdown run pulled Texas within 43-31, but the Longhorns’ chances for a comeback were essentially extinguished in the third quarter’s final minute. Facing a 4th-and-3 at the Oklahoma State 38, Texas went for it. But Buechele was unable to connect with Jake Oliver, the first fourth-down failure of the season for Texas, which had converted its previous four tries. (The Longhorns were later successful on a fourth-down try during its final drive of the game).