Sometimes the ball bounces in strange ways. For Oklahoma State, the ball bounced back to its sophomore quarterback Mason Rudolph at just the right time to enable him to make an improbable completion. While Rudolph was in the shotgun near midfield, the snap sailed over his head. Unfortunately for Central Michigan, it only rushed three lineman on the play. The ball stayed on the carpet for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, Rudolph picked it up and heaved it in the direction of a receiver streaking toward the sideline. The play was ruled a catch on the field and if it was indeed a catch, it was just barely completed inside the sideline. That was it for the Chippewas. Oklahoma State was set up in the red zone and scored the dagger to go up 24-13 on CMU.
New CMU head coach John Bonamego had repeated several times prior to the game that in order for his team to win, it needed to avoid pre-snap penalties and turnovers. Evidently, CMU quarback Cooper Rush wasn't listening because he turned the ball over at the CMU 11 yard line on an interception on CMU's first possession. This led to Oklahoma State's first score on a field goal. CMU was then able to mount a long drive only to get jinxed by a 5 yard penalty deep in the red zone. The result was. 3-3 tie to end the first was quarter.
The Cowboys then rode off on a long drive of their own that resulted in a one yard touchdown to start the second quarter. This time, they were abetted by a strange illegal substitution penalty on CMU that gave Oklahoma State a second chance from the one yard line after CMU had seemingly made a tremendous stop.
A false start called on CMU tight end Ben McCord killed another deep drive and the Chips went into halftime down 10-6.
Cooper Rush finally righted the ship for CMU to start the second half with a nifty 15 yard run to put his team up 13-10. The score capped a 75 yard drive during which Rush was at his best capitalizing on miscues by the Cowboy defense.
Following Rush's score, it was all Mason Rudolph. First, he slid away from the CMU defense to score on a 22 yard run to put his team up 17-13. Then in the fourth quarter, Rudolph hit Marcell Ateman on a 18 yard touchdown pass following his improbable fumble turned into a completion. It had to be frustrating for the Chips because it looked like their defense was about to dominate Rudolph and company down the stretch.
There will be no talk of moral victories from coach Bonamego. His team had this game within its grasp. It just bounced away.