Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph shines vs. UW defense
Mason Rudolph wasn’t perfect, but for a true freshman, he played with enough poise Friday night to lead Oklahoma State to victory over Washington in the Cactus Bowl.
Special to The Seattle Times
TEMPE, Ariz. – Mason Rudolph wasn’t perfect, but for a true freshman, he played with enough poise Friday night to lead Oklahoma State to victory over Washington in the Cactus Bowl.
His 299 passing yards and involvement in a couple of trick plays were key to the Cowboys’ 30-22 win.
Rudolph was the third starting quarterback the Cowboys have used this season, because of injuries to Daxx Garman and J.W. Walsh. He lost his debut to sixth-ranked Baylor on Nov. 22 but helped Oklahoma State get into the Cactus Bowl with a win over rival Oklahoma on Dec. 6.
“Our football team was impressed with his toughness and grit. He’s still a young player and he makes mistakes,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. “Our quarterbacks know that to play quarterback at this level, you have to be the toughest guy on the field.”
Friday night’s task was daunting for the 19-year-old, facing a UW defense that finished third in the nation in sacks with 49. Rudolph needed good protection from his offensive line against a pair of pass-rushing Husky All-Americans on defense,
Hau’oli Kikaha and Danny Shelton, and for the most part, he got it.
“We ran the ball so well early that they were kind of on their heels. We were kind of able to keep them guessing when it was a passing down,” Rudolph said.
“For the most part, I thought our offensive line held up well,” Gundy said.
The Huskies sacked Rudolph three times – Kikaha forcing a fumble and turnover on the first sack – and intercepted him once. But Rudolph gave his team an insurmountable lead at halftime with a pair of touchdown passes and 198 yards through the air.
Rudolph only totaled 101 passing yards in the second half, as the Cowboys were running the ball with a lead in an effort to chew up clock. When Oklahoma State went up 30-14 with 5:54 to play in the fourth quarter – five plays after a 23-yard completion from Rudolph to Brandon Sheperd – the Huskies were in too deep a hole to mount a comeback.
Rudolph and Sheperd were an effective tandem. Sheperd had 98 yards on five catches with a touchdown, and threw 22 yards to Rudolph on a trick play that set up the Cowboys’ second TD.
“I never thought we would call it in a game,” Rudolph said with a sheepish grin.