By JOHN TRANCHINA
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - When a small storm rolling through delayed Saturday's Oklahoma State-Pittsburgh game with 12:55 left in the fourth quarter and the score tied 38-38, OSU coach Mike Gundy used the extra time to make some much-needed adjustments.
Following the almost 2-hour delay, the Cowboys limited the Panthers' effectiveness on offense and then came up with the game-winning touchdown drive. Mason Rudolph connected on an 86-yard pass to Jhajuan Seales, then Rennie Childs scored on a 1-yard run - his fourth rushing touchdown of the game - with 1:28 remaining to lift Oklahoma State to a 45-38 victory.
"I'll be real honest with you, the delay saved us," said Gundy, whose team squandered second quarter leads of 24-10 and 31-17. "We got a lot of coaching out of it. Defense coaches changed it, corrected it, offense did some things. When the delay happened, I was okay with it, because I felt like we needed it to make some corrections. I felt like this was a good thing for us."
Rudolph was 26 of 46 for a school-record 540 yards and two touchdowns, while James Washington pulled in nine receptions for 296 yards - the most in the nation by anyone so far this season - and two touchdowns. Childs finished with 101 yards on 10 carries.
"(Rudolph) played great," said Cowboys offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. "Always room to improve, but he needs to sit back and enjoy this one. He played tremendous, especially at the end, finished strong again, the game-winning drive. I'm proud of him."
One week after a stunning loss to Central Michigan on a final untimed play that officials later admitted should never have happened, Oklahoma State (2-1) found themselves in another nail-biter decided in the final moments.
After starting its final possession on its own 8-yard-line with 1:21 to go, Pitt advanced to the OSU 45-yard-line before Nathan Peterman's pass was intercepted by Ramon Richards with 15 seconds left.
Rudolph, who broke Brandon Weeden's previous single-game mark of 502 yards from 2011, had 372 yards passing and Washington 231 receiving in the first half alone, both OSU school records for one half. The Cowboys' 467 yards of total offense in the opening half also set a school record.
James Conner rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries for Pitt (2-1), while Peterman threw for 237 yards and a touchdown on 14-of-30 passing.
"They made one more play than we did, really, when it comes down to it, at the end," said Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi. "Regardless of what happened in the first half, or third quarter, it came down to the last few seconds."
Pittsburgh: Despite the loss, the Panthers displayed impressive resilience, falling behind 24-10 and 31-17 in the first half, but continuing to battle back, answering Oklahoma State's penchant for big plays. They tied the game 31-31 early in the third quarter on Matt Galambos' 2-yard fumble return, and then again at 38-38 several minutes later on Quadree Henderson's 50-yard touchdown run.
"Our kids hung in there," Narduzzi said. "There was adversity and our kids fought all the way to the end, and that's all, as a coach, you can ask for."
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys showed no ill effects after their controversial defeat last week against Central Michigan. Any lingering questions were undoubtedly cleared up when the Cowboys' first offensive play turned into a 91-yard touchdown pass from Rudolph to Washington.
"It definitely sparked a fire in me," Washington said of the quick start. "It definitely got my blood flowing, especially coming back to the sideline and just rallying with my teammates. It was huge for the entire team."
The Cowboys demonstrated an impressive ability to execute big plays, as Rudolph completed nine passes for over 20 yards, while Childs also broke free for a 67-yard touchdown run.
PLAY OF THE GAME
With less than two minutes remaining and Oklahoma State on its own 13-yard-line, Rudolph heaved up a bomb to Seales, who was wide open down the right sideline after Pitt cornerback Avonte Maddox fell down. Seales raced the length the field, finally getting knocked out of bounds by Terrish Webb at the 1-yard-line. OSU had gone 3-and-out on five of its previous six possessions, and came through with yet another big play when they needed it. On the next snap, Childs scored the game-winning touchdown.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers are on the road again as they open ACC play against North Carolina.
Oklahoma State: OSU travels for its first away game of the season, visiting Big 12 rival Baylor.
"As usual, when you come to Stillwater, you get your money's worth," Gundy said. "It was a great game for college football. I'm very proud of the team. I told them in the locker room that they've learned another great life lesson in overcoming adversity and rallying back."
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