It was a wild shootout of a game, but, despite things clicking offensively, the Pitt Panthers couldn’t overcome the Oklahoma State Cowboys, and the Cowboys won, 45-38, in wild fashion. While the game had a ton of key moments, here are the 10 plays that had the biggest impact on the game’s momentum.
1. Oklahoma State came out flying right out of the shoot. After a botched kickoff return, the Cowboys were pinned at their own 9-yard line. No matter, they launched a long ball on their first play. Boom. 91-yard touchdown pass from Mason Randolph to James Washington, a pairing that would be a consistent theme throughout the game. 7-0, Cowboys.
2. The Panthers struck right back on the ground when James Conner busted off a 32-yard run. It was a pivotal moment for Pitt, which couldn’t afford to be shell-shocked by the early deficit. Wide receiver Qadree Henderson cashed in from 10 yards out for a Panther score. 7-7.
3. Oklahoma State gave meaning to “air raid” offense, going downfield early and often against the Panthers’ secondary. Cowboys’ QB Randolph struck from 29 yards out for his second TD on the day, capping off a 99 yard drive. 17-10, Cowboys.
4. Pitt was teetering on the edge, down 24-10 in a hostile road environment. There really was no choice but to go for it. So the Panthers did. On 4th and goal from inside the 1-yard line, Conner got the carry and tried leaping over top, only to be stood up. He shrugged off the defender enough to pirouette his way to the ground, turning his arm and extending the ball across the goal line. 24-17, Cowboys.
5. Leading by 14, the Cowboys shot themselves with their own pistol. Looking to go ahead by three scores, Rudolph fumbled the exchange with his running back, which Pitt recovered for the take away. Still 31-17, Cowboys.
6. Hope you didn’t check your phone or hit the bathroom after the fumble recovery. The next play went downtown to Jester Weah, who broke a tackle and cruised 60 yards to the end zone. The bomb pulled Pitt within a touchdown. 31-24, Cowboys.
7. After a perilous start, the Panthers’ defense stiffened up. Perhaps their biggest play on the afternoon turned into instant offense. Pass rusher Ejuan Price came steaming around the left end, bowling the helpless running back into Rudolph. The ball squirted loose, and Pitt’s Matt Galambos converted a slick scoop-and-score for the Pitt touchdown. 31-31.
8. Late in the third quarter, wide receiver Qadree Henderson motioned right before pivoting and reversing field left on a jet sweep. He took it on the fly, burning the Cowboys’ defense for a 50-yard touchdown scamper. 38-38.
9. It was a game so crazy even Mother Nature intervened. Lighting and storms in the area stopped play, forcing a nearly two-hour delay with about a quarter remaining to play. On a day that included over 1,000 total yards from scrimmage and 83 points, apparently anything goes.
10. It was the final back breaker. Pitt’s defense stiffened immensely in the game’s second half. After several squandered possessions with a chance to take the lead, the Panthers’ defense finally broke once again. Very much indicative of their failures from earlier in the game, it was a deep ball that undid the defense. In an twist of fate, cornerback Avonte Maddox slipped in coverage, leaving receiver Jhajuan Seales nothing but green grass ahead of him. Seales took the catch-and-run 86 yards to the Pitt 1-yard line. Oklahoma State scored on the next play, which ended up being the final difference. Final: 45-38, Cowboys.
Image credit: Beau Simmons/Stillwater News Press