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Cowboys stun NU, 24-21, change losing tradition

The drizzling rain stopped for a moment with two minutes left on the clock Saturday.  

 

It was about the same time that Cowboy tailback Tatum Bell got the first down that sealed an Oklahoma State win over the Nebraska football team, 24-21, and - for a little while - it didn't seem like the windchill was 46 degrees, as OSU fans erupted with cheers to the sight of Bell's first down carry.  

 

After that, the Cowboys (3-4, 1-2 Big 12) were able to run out the clock against the Cornhuskers (5-3, 1-2) on three more rushes by Bell, who had 182 yards on 33 carries. 

 

Fans poured out of the stands and onto Lewis Field to tear down the goalposts for the first time since Oct. 24, 1998, when the Cowboys beat Oklahoma, 46-26. It was the first time in 35 meetings that the Cowboys defeated the Huskers. The last OSU victory over NU was in 1961 - 14-6. 

 

"Well, you can't have execution without attitude," Cowboy coach Les Miles said after the game. "The attitude was there, and this team wanted to win." 

 

OSU senior offensive lineman Jason Russell said the NU game is the biggest win he's been a part of. 

 

"We wanted to establish the run as an offensive line, and we went out there and did that today," Russell said. "It came together so perfectly - anything we wanted to do, we could do - it was a good game planned by the coaches." 

 

The Cowboys went into the locker rooms at halftime down 7-3, having only scored on a 45-yard field goal by Luke Phillips. OSU turned it on in the third quarter, however, when Cowboy quarterback Josh Fields ran in a 3-yard touchdown with 6:43 left in the quarter. Fields later connected with Rashaun Woods on a 5-yard pass to put the Cowboys ahead, 17-7. 

 

Fields was 17-of-27 with no interceptions and 192 yards. The Cowboys had 387 total offensive yards to NU's 369. OSU had an almost perfectly balanced offensive attack, with 195 yards rushing and 192 yards passing. 

 

"We weren't in many third-and-longs because our running game was so good today," Woods said. "The offensive line did a great job of blocking for the running game, and it didn't put us in bad situations." 

 

The Huskers tried to rally back in the fourth, but to no avail. They managed to score twice on a 2-yard run by David Horne and a 1-yard run from quarterback Jammal Lord. 

 

Woods had 11 receptions for 134 yards and a 25-yard touchdown pass from Fields. Woods' statistics from the NU game move him into third in the Big 12 Conference's all-time receiving list behind Justin Gage of Missouri and Kwame Cavil of Texas. Gage is still playing at MU, and Woods is just six catches behind him. 

 

The Cowboys were 8-of-16 on third down conversions, and Miles said that stat was a key to the game. 

 

"When you get to third down, that is the time for competition, that's gonna win it," Miles said. "That's a difference-maker. It's what we point to on a weekly basis. Some weeks we're successful, some weeks we're not.  

 

"Both the offense and defense responded to third down plays today." 

 

Russell said another big difference in the game was the Huskers' attitude. 

 

"They (defensive line for NU) came out and they were down," Russell said of the last series of the game. "You could see it in their eyes." 

 

Perhaps the biggest momentum swing for the Cowboys came in the fourth quarter when Fields connected on a 12-yard pass with wide receiver John Lewis. Lewis dove to make the catch, which made the highlight reel on SportsCenter Saturday night. 

 

"Before the catch, I was saying, 'Stay in it, stay in it man - we are gonna need you,' and he really came through," Woods said of talking to Lewis before the play. "That was a great catch he made - keeping his leg in or his foot in or whatever.  

 

"I saw the replay - I don't if know I could have topped that one." 

 

The OSU defense also played an impressive game. The Cowboys were led by Kevin Williams and Elbert Craig, who had 10 tackles each. Williams also had a sack for minus-8 yards. 

 

"They (coaches) told us what to do, and it was up to us to be up to the challenge," Williams said. "I was up for it the whole game." 

 

Miles added that Williams was his pick for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week. 

 

Defensive lineman Greg Richmond had four tackles and a sack for minus-14 yards. Richmond also recovered a fumble made by Lord in the third quarter that set up Woods' touchdown. 

 

Woods said this was a win for the fans. 

 

"All those people that played on teams that Nebraska beat, it (the win) reassures a good feeling for them also," Woods said. "There were a lot of alums here watching the game.  

 

"I am thankful they were here." 

 

Katy Jones can be reached via e-mail at kjones@ocolly.com