Ah, Saturdays. Only a Saturday can bring the joy of sleeping-in and exciting football.
The 11 a.m. kickoff stole our extended slumber but it brought a surplus of excitement at Boone Pickens Stadium.
The game started like any other.
I strolled around the tailgating scene and saw six Central Michigan fans. Any Big 12 opponent would have brought more fans than CMU did.
All signs pointed to a second victory for Oklahoma State in 2016.
I noticed a shallower crowd than I have seen before, but fans filled in closer to kickoff.
The Cowboys came out of the gates firing, and the crowd was behind them.
Halftime came and some of the crowd departed with its arrival. The upper half of the northwest corner emptied.
The third quarter began and the remaining fans weren’t as electric as the first half but still strongly supporting their Cowboys.
The fourth quarter is where the atmosphere was out of the ordinary.
With 9:40 remaining, the Chippewas scored to take the lead. The crowd was silent. The small collection of CMU fans that cheered were inaudible from my seat in the student section.
The crowd gained its momentum with a drive led by quarterback Mason Rudolph. With each play, the crowd
got louder. After OSU picked up a first down, the offense rushed to the line. Rudolph threw a fade to James Washington but Josh Cox was in perfect position to intercept the pass.
The crowd was almost silent. The only shouts heard were those of OSU fans cursing Rudolph’s atrocious throw.
It took one play to get the crowd back to its electric form. Ashton Lampkin forced a fumble and Devante Averette recovered it.
The crowd roared when they saw a Cowboy hold up the football.
It was one of the loudest moments in my time at OSU.
The next drive brought a mixed bag of emotion. The crowd was hushed to allow OSU to communicate. Then “boos” came.
Rudolph stretched out on a quarterback draw and was not given a first down.
The crowd was roaring when a timeout was called.
Freshman wide receiver Dillon Stoner trotted out to quarterback. Washington motioned from receiver. Washington crossed and caught the short toss from Stoner. When Washington crossed the goal line, OSU fans erupted and Stoner celebrated his first career touchdown. The electricity continued when the Cowboys stopped CMU on its next possession.
It was time for victory formation. Then, the blunder occurred.
The Cowboys tried to wind down the clock by kneeling the ball.
The Cowboy Marching Band played DJ Khaled’s 2010 hit song “All I Do Is Win.”
It was at this moment, I knew something insane was going to happen.
On fourth down, Rudolph dropped back and threw the ball to the sideline. The clock read zero, and Cowboy fans face’s read happy.
The officials called intentional grounding and awarded CMU one last play.
CMU quarterback Cooper Rush dropped back. He launched the ball towards the goal line where Jesse Kroll was waiting. Kroll was brought down but had the presence of mind to lateral the ball to Corey Willis who took it to the left sideline and scored the game-winning touchdown. The crowd returned to a silent state. The few sounds heard were either CMU fans going berserk or OSU fans shouting out disbelief.
It was the craziest games I’ve witnessed and I was glad to be in the crowd.
The atmosphere was a seesaw but it turned out to be a major key in an instant classic.