STILLWATER, Oklahoma – It was the next man up for the Oklahoma State Cowboys after a week of devastating injuries, but resilience, strength and good composure led the Cowboys to defeat the TCU Horned Frogs 34-27 on Saturday.
The team was rocked with devastation as three Cowboy starters including Offensive Lineman Johnny Wilson, Safety Tre Sterling and Wide Receiver Tylan Wallace fell victim to injuries during practice as the Pokes worked hard to prepare for the Horned Frogs.
“It was an unusual situation,” Head coach Mike Gundy said. “It was a weird deal to lose those three guys in one week. It’s a shock to the players. It’s their buddies. I was real proud of them for staying the course and avoiding adversity.”
With Sterling’s injury taking place on Tuesday during practice, the team only had more bad news coming their way as both Wilson and Wallace went down within three minutes of each other the next day.
Wilson, who suffered a lower back injury on one end of the field, was quickly followed by Wallace who suffered a knee injury that was later deemed as a season-ending ACL tear.
“The most difficult thing for a coach is when a player gets hurt,” Gundy said. “He’s a tremendous player and a very hard worker who’s humble. It almost ruined my week. When I’m here, I stay the course, but when I got home, it made me sick. It was even a challenge for me to keep my head up, and I’ve done this a long time.”
Both Wilson and Sterling will be day-to-day calls as they continue to heal, but on the unfortunate end for Cowboy fans and Cowboy Football, Wallace’s season will come to an end as he prepares for surgery and starts rehabilitation for his knee.
“I was definitely playing for those guys,” Running back Chuba Hubbard said. “I let Tylan know we were going to get this win for them. Those guys are a big part of our team. This game was for them.”
The Cowboys did just that – Step up.
Cowboy fans entered today’s game with many question circling their minds.
Who would be the next guy up? Who can do what Tylan does? Will Chuba have more carries?
Wide Receiver Dillon Stoner gave Cowboy fans their answers real quick.
Stoner completed the game with 93 yards on three receptions for two touchdowns. This would be the first time he’s had a touchdown this season. Also, leading up to this game, Stoner had only had zero to one catch in three of the past four games.
“I asked the guys in the sideline huddle who was ready to play Z,” Offensive Coordinator Sean Gleeson said. “Dillon Stoner perked up, came right to the middle, looked me in the eye and said he would.”
Stoner, a redshirt junior, had made notable plays for the Cowboys in past years, and as a veteran on this team, he made no hesitation letting his coaches and teammates know he was ready to step up.
“He’s probably the hardest worker I have ever seen,” Quarterback Spencer Sanders said. “He’s the hardest worker on this team. He’s the best leader, and I feel like he did his role today.”
Stoner’s first touchdown completion came with nine minutes left in the first quarter where Sanders dip his shoulder and shrugged out of a potential sack situation to connect with a wide open Stoner downfield for a 57-yard touchdown.
This aided a Matt Ammendola field goal made earlier in the game to give the Cowboys an early 10-0 lead over the Frogs.
Mike Gundy spoke highly of TCU’s defense earlier in the week at his weekly press conference noting how they will be the best defense his guys see all year, and with some sneaky moves on offense and increased pressure on defense, the Cowboys found themselves tied up with the Frogs at 17-17 going into halftime.
It wasn’t long after the halfway mark that Chuba Hubbard started doing what he does best, and a 92-yard rush for Hubbard quickly brought the Cowboys back on top at 24-17.
This 92-yard rush marked this as the longest of Hubbard’s career and is tied for 4th longest rushing yard touchdown in school history.
“I just saw the hole and hit it,” Hubbard said. “The offensive line did a great job. We had a great offensive scheme, and everyone played their butts off.”
Hubbard would finish the night with 223 yards on 20 carries for two touchdowns. This would be his fourth game this season breaking 200 yards in rushing.
Oregon State win (52-36) 221 yards
Tulsa win (40-21) 256 yards
Kansas State win (24-13) 303 yards
TCU win (34-27) 223 yards
Hubbard is also now the only player in college football to ever have 200+ yards on a Gary Patterson defense.
“What’s fun about coaching against a guy like that [Patterson] is that it brings out the best in everybody,” Gleeson said. “Credit Chuba, and credit all the guys up front. When you can rush that many yards against a good defense, it speaks to the character and toughness of all our guys.”
The Cowboys advance to 6-3 with this win over TCU, and they now become bowl eligible for the 14th consecutive season.
“The bowl eligibility is special for fans and families,” Gundy said. “It is a big deal, but I wanted my players to learn that life lesson; to overcome adversity, and the bowl eligibility proves that.”
NEXT UP: The Cowboys have their second bye week of the season and will face the Kansas Jayhawks on Nov. 11 in Stillwater.