STILLWATER, Okla. (WVU Athletics) -- Tylan Wallace's 11-yard touchdown reception with 42 seconds left lifted Oklahoma State to 45-41 come-from-behind victory over West Virginia Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Wallace's score capped a 17-point second half rally that saw the seventh-ranked Mountaineers blow their first halftime lead in 21 straight games under Coach Dana Holgorsen.
The outcome may have been decided on the final play when Will Grier's pass from the Oklahoma State 14-yard line was knocked down by A.J. Green, but it was really decided on two critical short yardage plays West Virginia failed to convert deep in Oklahoma State territory.
"I think we left probably 14 points out there," Holgorsen said. "When you are in the red zone and can't punch it in, if you are a great offense, you do that. I guess we are not a great offense because we couldn't do that."
The first missed opportunity occurred late in the second quarter when the Mountaineers were faced with a fourth and 1 at the Cowboy 5-yard line. Grier tried a quarterback sneak into the middle of the Oklahoma State defense but failed to get enough push to move the sticks and OSU took over on downs.
The second happened on West Virginia's opening drive of the third quarter, following an Oklahoma State length-of-the-field drive for a touchdown that trimmed its deficit to 31-21, when Grier called his own number again on third and 1 at the OSU 9. Here he was thrown for a four-yard loss, but even more damaging, the replay official above overruled the call on the field and declared that the quarterback had fumbled the football before going down.
That's two opportunities for points West Virginia failed to score against an offense averaging 39.2 points per game this year and put 50 on the scoreboard last year against the Mountaineers in Morgantown.
Oklahoma State turned Grier's fumble into three points when it marched 80 yards in 14 plays to the WVU 2 before the Mountaineers came up with a goal line stop on third down, forcing a 20-yard Matt Ammendola field goal.
That reduced West Virginia's lead to 31-24 with 6:40 left in the third period.
West Virginia's Evan Staley began the fourth quarter by punching through a 34-yard field goal, his second of the game. His first came on the final play of the first half from 43 yards.
Staley's second field goal put West Virginia ahead 34-24, and it remained that way until another three-and-out possession by the Mountaineer offense gave Oklahoma State possession at its own 43.
Twice, the Cowboys converted third-and-long plays, the first a 38-yard Taylor Cornelius pass to Tyron Johnson on third and 20 to move the ball to the WVU 17, and the second coming on third and 13 when Cornelius hit running back Chuba Hubbard out in the flat for 14 yards to the WVU 6.
On the next play, Cornelius hooked up with Johnson for the touchdown and Ammendola's conversion kick reduced West Virginia's lead to three, 34-31.
The Mountaineers responded with one of their few successful drives of the second half, keyed by tight end Trevon Wesco's one-handed catch over the middle of the field that carried the football 43 yards to the OSU 40. WVU's drive bogged down at the OSU 20, but the Mountaineers were awarded a fresh set of downs when Devin Harper interfered with Kennedy McKoy while trying to catch Grier's fourth-down pass in the end zone.
The football was placed on OSU's 5 and West Virginia needed all four plays to get it in, the touchdown coming on Grier's scramble from the 6 with 7:37 remaining. Staley's conversion gave West Virginia's defense a seemingly manageable two-possession cushion.
But right away Cornelius went to work, hitting Dillon Stoner for 22 yards to the OSU 44. Cornelius followed that up with a 17-yard scramble and then hit Stoner for 9 more to the WVU 30. Four plays later, Cornelius called his own number once again and scampered in from the 9, making it a three-point game once more with 4:47 left.
West Virginia got one first down when Grier completed a 22-yard pass to Sills, taking the ball out to the WVU 45, but an incomplete pass and an unsuccessful McKoy run made it third and 10.
WVU attempted to cross up Oklahoma State with another McKoy run on third and long, but this time the Cowboys were waiting to stop him for just a four-yard gain. Here, Oklahoma State called timeout to stop the clock with 2:45 remaining.
Following a false start called in Sills, Billy Kinney's punt traveled just 31 yards before bouncing out of bounds at the OSU 25.
Once more, Cornelius used his feet to gain 17 yards to put Oklahoma State in business at its 42. Another Cornelius run for 12 yards advanced the ball to the West Virginia 46 and then two Hubbard runs of 23 and 12 yards got the football to the Mountaineer 23 with the clock winding inside of a minute to play.
Cornelius' fifth touchdown pass and Wallace's second gave Oklahoma State its first lead of the game with just 42 seconds remaining.
Possessing two timeouts, Grier completed back-to-back passes of 11 and 33 yards to Gary Jennings Jr. to move the football to the OSU 28 with 14 second remaining. Another Grier pass for 14 yards to David Sills V gave West Virginia a fresh set of downs at the Cowboy 14.
West Virginia used a timeout to stop the clock with two seconds left, and called another timeout once it saw how Oklahoma State planned to defend the game's final play.
Oklahoma State got pressure on Grier, flushing him to his right where his pass into the end zone intended for Sills was deflected by Green to end the game.
"Obviously, that was a fun one, great college football game," victorious Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said afterward. "I'm really proud of our players and their ability to fight back. I thought our coaches made tremendous adjustments at halftime, maybe as good as I've been around in a long, long time."
"Congratulations to Coach Gundy and Oklahoma State," added Holgorsen. "They have been in a lot of these games and you can tell they had a little bit better mindset down the stretch than we did. It's disappointing that we had a chance to close them out and we didn't."
Today's stinging defeat was West Virginia's fourth straight to Oklahoma State dating back to a 34-10 Mountaineer victory here in 2014, and it knocks West Virginia out of contention for the College Football Playoff.
It also puts a spot in the Big 12 Championship game in jeopardy if Iowa State defeats Texas later tonight in Austin. West Virginia has one regular season game remaining next Saturday against league-leader Oklahoma in Morgantown.
Grier put up another 300-yard passing performance, getting 364 yards and two touchdowns, but he also misfired 21 times on his 48 pass attempts.
McKoy, who scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in the first half, finished today's game with a career-high 148 yards on a season-high 21 totes.
Cornelius overcame a couple of interceptions to complete 30-of-46 for 338 yards while also running 13 times for 106 yards. Hubbard, playing in place of injured starting running back Justice Hill, ran 26 times for 134 yards as the Cowboys – much like last year – had great success running the football against West Virginia's defense to the tune of 266 yards on 43 attempts.
Stoner led all receivers with nine catches for 127 yards.
West Virginia drops to 8-2, 6-2 with the loss, while Oklahoma State now becomes bowl eligible with its sixth win of the season.