Senior staff writer

Huskers sneak past OSU

Game Day Notebook

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Oklahoma State football team walked away from a battle with thesecond-ranked team in the country Saturday with a moral victory.

OSU beat the Cornhuskers in nearly every aspect of the game, topping NU in passing yards,running yards, first downs and time of possession.

But the Cowboys failed to outdo Nebraska when it counted the most. With a chance to tie the game at 24 with five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma State I-back Nathan Simmons rushed for no gain at the NU 1-yard line.

The Cowboys fell to Nebraska 24-17 in front of 79,555 fans at Arrowhead Stadium. And for OSUlinebacker Raymond Cato, that was the bottom line. Forget about moral victories.

"We wanted to prove we weren't here just to be here," said Cato, who totaled nine tackles - including four for losses - and sacked Bobby Newcombe once for a 10-yard loss. "We didn'tjust show up so that (Nebraska) could play in a game. We knew we could win, and we wanted to prove that to people."

OSU Coach Bob Simmons said the Cowboys proved themselves in the first half.

"We played disciplined football and executed the game plan to perfection," Simmons said. "We gave up two quick touchdowns in the second half, but I was happy with the way we regained our composure.

"We came up here with a good game plan, and we thought we could execute it and win."

But ironically, it was their execution - or lack of it - that may have doomed the Cowboys.

With 2:21 left in the game, Oklahoma State quarterback Tony Lindsay directed the Cowboys fromtheir own 41-yard line 58 yards to the Nebraska 1. Five seconds remained in the game.

With no time-outs left, Simmons hurriedly decided on a play that called for an extra lineman,second-string center Reynell Lavinge, to line up between left guard Adam Davis and left tackleDavid Comacho to create an unbalanced line on the left side.

Lavinge, who wasn't standing near Simmons, didn't hear the play called. He ran onto the fieldlate and lined up wrong.

"We lost about three or four seconds on that," Lindsay said. "Plus, the play was just late getting called. We wanted to try and catch Nebraska off-balance, and we couldn't do it."

The Cowboys used the unbalanced "craw" formation effectively throughout the game, rushing for 203 yards on 55 attempts. Nathan Simmons' 114 yards marked the first time a playerrushed for more than 100 yards against NU since Virginia Tech's Ken Oxendine rushed for 150 yards in the 1996 Orange Bowl.

But Bob Simmons couldn't hide his disappointment over the final play.

"When the game is on the line, you have to have a play called," he said. "And when theball is on the 1-inch line, you have to get it in the end zone. We failed to do that, so we came up short."

It was one of the few times OSU fell short. The Cowboys rendered Nebraska's offense nonexistent in the first half. The Huskers rushed for four yards and never crossed OSU's 25-yard line in the first half.

Oklahoma State stuffed NU's fullback trap - Joel Makovicka rushed for 9 yards on six carries - and limited Husker I-back DeAngelo Evans to 2.7 yards per carry.

The Cowboys, on the other hand, moved the ball well against the Blackshirts. Nathan Simmons had 59 yards alone in the first quarter.

"You have to give credit to the offensive line," said OSU tailback Jamaal Fobbs, whorushed for 55 yards on 12 carries. "It's great to see your guys out in front of you. We just came up short in the end."

But, Comacho said, the Cowboys have to forget about their so-called "moral victory" overNebraska and concentrate on winning the Big 12 South Division. OSU plays undefeatedTexas Tech next week and third-ranked Kansas State the following Saturday.

"It hurts," Comacho said of the loss. "It hurts a lot. But we made a statement to thenation that we can play, and we're going to show that again next week and the week after."

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