Oklahoma State stymies Arizona State defensively for 27-15 win
The Associated Press - September 10, 2023 8:56 am
By JOHN MARSHALL AP Sports Writer
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Oklahoma State played to the sticks a stuck it to Arizona State.
Garret Rangel found a wide-open Brennan Presley on a 16-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter after Oklahoma State’s final fourth-down stop, clinching a 27-15 win over the Sun Devils on Saturday night.
“We’ve got to play the sticks,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said of defending fourth downs. “We practiced it 20 times more than I’ve ever practiced in my 19 years as coach and so I feel like we’re better at it. I think it paid off for us tonight.”
The Cowboys (2-0) were one of the FBS’ worst teams at stopping teams on fourth downs last season, in part because they didn’t practice it.
Gundy and his staff ingrained the way to play on fourth down — don’t let the offensive player get to the first-down stick — throughout spring and fall practice.
It paid off in one of the hottest games in Arizona State history — 104 degrees at kickoff.
Oklahoma State had an interception and forced Arizona State to turn it over on downs four times — the biggest one from the Sun Devils’ 33-yard line in the fourth quarter.
Rangel, the Cowboys’ third quarterback of the night, then caught Arizona State on a blitz and floated a pass to Presley, who had no one within 15 yards of him. Gunnar Gundy earlier found De’Zhaun Stribling on a 3-yard touchdown on a slant after Arizona State turned it over on downs near midfield.
“The coaches really focused on short-yardage situations every fourth down and it showed up in the game really, really well for us,” Oklahoma State linebacker Nick Martin said. “We held it down, battened down the hatches.”
The Sun Devils (1-1) labored offensively for the second straight week, finishing with 277 total yards. Freshman Jaden Rashada had some good moments early, some shaky ones later to finish with 167 yards and a touchdown on 16-of-29 passing with an interception.
Arizona State went 1 for 5 on fourth downs, 6 for 15 on third.
“You’re not going to win many games when you’re not converting third-and-1s and fourth-and-1s,” Arizona State coach Kenny Dillingham said. “We were getting in manageable situations and we just didn’t get the job done.”
Defenses controlled the game early on a hot night in the desert before the offenses found some cracks.
Arizona State played without one starting tackle against Oklahoma State and lost another in the first quarter. The Sun Devils still had some offensive success, putting together two first-half scoring drives.
Cam Skattebo capped the first by scoring on a 13-run run on a direct snap. Rashada then pulled in Oklahoma State’s defense with a play-action fake, leaving Elijah Badger wide open for a 65-yard touchdown to put Arizona State up 15-6 after a 2-point conversion.
“Just keeping my eyes down field, extending plays, which always makes it harder on the defense,” Rashada said.
The Cowboys took advantage of a short field to tie it at 7-all on Ollie Gordon’s 2-yard TD run. Alex Hale’s 52-yard field goal pulled the Cowboys within 15-10 at halftime.
Oklahoma State took away Arizona State’s deep-ball opportunities in the second half and stuffed the Sun Devils on crucial fourth-down plays to pull out a tough road win.
Arizona State got even thinner on the offensive line early in the game.
Starting right tackle Emmit Bohle went down on the Sun Devils’ second drive and had to be carted off after an air cast was placed on his left leg.
Arizona State was already without starting left guard Isaia Glass and backup guard Cade Briggs due to injuries.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys still have some kinks to work out offensively, not to mention settle on a quarterback, but their defense led the way on a sizzling night in the desert.
Oklahoma State hosts South Alabama next Saturday.