STILLWATER, Okla. — When a veteran wide receiver from Wichita Falls has a big day in a Texas Tech game, it’s not a surprise anymore.
Except on Saturday, when it was someone other than Eric Ward. That was a big surprise.
The Tech pass defense made Oklahoma State senior Isaiah Anderson look like a champ in the Cowboys’ 59-21 rout at Boone Pickens Stadium. He caught four passes for career highs of 174 yards and three touchdowns in his final home game.
Tech cheated players close to the line of scrimmage, game planning to limit Big 12 Conference rushing leader Joseph Randle, and that freed up Anderson to catch touchdown passes of 60, 33 and 66 yards.
The Red Raiders also pressed with their corners on the outside.
“Doing that and playing man coverage, we put eight in the box, seven in the box,” Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. “You play zone on those guys, which people have done all year long, and they just run up and down the field.
“So we were trying to do something. We felt like we could match up on the outside, just take away the run and force them to throw the ball down field. And obviously it backfired on us.”
Anderson is a senior from Wichita Falls High. That’s a rival high school to Wichita Falls Rider, the alma mater of Ward, the Tech junior who entered Saturday with a streak of three consecutive 100-yard games.
Anderson started Saturday as Oklahoma State’s seventh-leading receiver with 10 catches for 123 yards and no TDs. He’d never done anything like what he did to Tech, his previous career highs being 64 yards in a game and one touchdown.
If not for an ankle injury to OSU wide receiver Charlie Moore, Anderson might not even have played much. Moore had 23 catches and five TDs in the previous five games, but he was limited to returning punts Saturday.
“We’re happy that he got the opportunity,” Cowboys offensive coordinator Todd Monken said, “and we tried to do some things that maximized what he does. I’m just really happy for him. It’s been an up-and-down season and career for him. On senior day, that’s something he’s always going to remember.”
Tech gave up three pass plays longer than 30 yards for the second time in three games. Two weeks ago, the Texas combo of David Ash to Mike Davis burned Tech deep for 54 and 75 yards.
“Post routes and go routes,” Tuberville said. “If you go back and look at Texas (a 31-22 Tech loss), that’s what we were trying to do with them was stop the run. We felt like today, you’ve got to take your choice on what you want to do.”
The Red Raiders were hoping to have No. 1 cornerback Cornelius Douglas back from a knee injury for the first time in five games. But after suiting up and going through pre-game warm-up, Douglas didn’t play yet again.
“He didn’t feel like he could open up and run full speed,” Tuberville said.
Anderson could have had four touchdowns. On the Cowboys’ first series, he ran by cornerback Bruce Jones on a post route and dropped a pass right in his hands in the end zone.
Rather than let it linger, Anderson caught three scoring passes in a four-series stretch as OSU turned a 7-7 tie into a 35-7 lead before halftime. He got wide open on a post pattern for his first TD, and the second came off a trick play. Randle took a handoff and pitched back to quarterback Clint Chelf, and then Anderson made a good catch in the end zone over safety Cody Davis.
Anderson’s third TD came when Jones slipped right after the snap, turning the receiver loose down the right sideline.
Jones was trying to get a jam at the line, which is something the Red Raiders had success with earlier in the year.
“We’ve played better man coverage when we’ve pressed receivers all year long,” Tuberville said. “We’ve been pretty successful out of it, but today we didn’t have hardly any success.”
The irony is some of OSU’s biggest weapons had ordinary games by their usual standards. Randle, a national top-20 rusher with six 100-yard games, finished with 17 carries for 91 yards, two-thirds of it after halftime when the outcome was already decided.
Inside receiver Josh Stewart, a national top-10 receiver who had averaged 10 catches for 118 yards the previous four weeks, caught four for 19.
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