SAN ANTONIO – Oklahoma State junior defensive lineman Vincent Taylor lost his last high school football game at the Alamodome.
He fared much better at the venue Thursday night, helping lead the Cowboys to a 38-8 rout of Colorado with a sterling performance in the Alamo Bowl.
The Alamo Bowl could turn to be the last college game for Taylor, who plans to explore his options of making himself available for the 2017 NFL draft.
“I’m going to sit down and talk to God about it and talk to my parents, and then I’m going to go from there,” he said. “I’m not for sure yet.”
A 2013 Madison High School graduate, Taylor was voted the game’s Defensive MVP after leading OSU with seven tackles and getting a sack. The Cowboys jumped on the Buffaloes early and never let up, going ahead 17-0 at halftime and scoring two touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 31-0 lead into the fourth quarter.
“It’s like a dream come true, a blessing from God, to be holding this trophy,” Taylor said. “We worked hard and prepared well. The coaches had a great game plan and we executed it.”
OSU (10-3) recorded its third 10-win season in the last four years. Colorado finished 10-4.
The Cowboys outgained the Buffaloes 527-318, finishing with 189 yards rushing and 338 passing. Quarterback Mason Rudolph and wide receiver James Washington were the offensive stars for OSU.
Rudolph completed 22 of 32 passes for 314 yards and three TDs. Washington, who was voted Offensive MVP, finished with nine receptions for 171 yards and one TD before sustaining a finger injury and leaving the game late in the third quarter. He spent the rest of the game cheering on his teammates from the sideline.
Justice Hill led OSU’s ground game with 100 yards on 19 carries.
The star of the Cowboys’ defense was clearly Taylor, who was a standout at Madison in 2012 when the Mavericks lost a 52-49 thriller to O’Connor in the Class 5A Division I state quarterfinals.
“To be able to win here tonight is a great feeling,” he said.
Former Madison coach Jim Streety offered Taylor encouragement before the game with a text message, Taylor said.
“It was great to hear from him,” Taylor said. “I saw him at breakfast earlier this week and we talked. I took a picture with him.”
Holding his Defensive MVP trophy, Taylor credited his teammates for the award.
“I’m just glad my teammates helped me get this,” he said. “They did a great job.”
Taylor was one of four San Antonio players who started for the OSU defense Thursday night. The other three were junior strong safety Tre Flowers (Judson), junior cornerback Ramon Richards (Brackenridge) and senior free safety Jordan Sterns (Steele).
Flowers and Sterns tied for third on the Cowboys’ tackle chart with five stops, and Richard was right behind them with four.
Two other players from the San Antonio area, fifth-year senior wide receiver Austin Hays (Reagan) and redshirt sophomore punter Zach Sinor (Medina Valley) also contributed to the OSU victory. Hays caught three passes for 19 yards and Sinor averaged 47.8 on four punts.
Taylor said he was glad to see Sterns end his collegiate career on a winning note – in San Antonio, to boot. Sterns wound up getting 14 game tickets for family and friends, and Taylor got 19.
“Before the game, I went up to Sterns and I told him, ‘We’re playing at home. Let’s put on a show. We managed to do that and came out with a victory.”
Sterns said he focused on simply having a good time in his final college game.
“Yeah, it was just fun to fly around, come back home, play in front of the people you love,” he said. “Then with your brothers, you work all offseason to get here. It’s truly a blessing to finish here.”
Here is a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of OSU's 38-8 victory over CU:
Final: OSU 38, CU 8
Fourth quarter (3:44): OSU 38, CU 8. Justice Hill scores on a 37-yard draw play. Ben Grogan kicks the PAT.
Fourth quarter (5:28): OSU 31, CU 8. The Buffaloes finally score, getting a touchdown on a 6-yard run by quarterback Sefo Liufau. Liufau passes to Phillip Lindsay for the two-point conversion.
End of third quarter: OSU 31, CU 0 The Cowboys outgained the Buffs 166-29 in the third quarter.
Third quarter (0:05): OSU 31, CU 0. Mason Rudolph connects with Jhajuan Seales for a 23-yard TD. The score ends a five-play, 48-yard drive that consumed 2:03. The drive started after CU was held for no gain on fourth-and-one at its 48. Ben Grogan adds PAT.
Third quarter (5:42): Sefo Liufau back in at quarterback for Colorado. The Buffs drive from their 28 to their 48 before Liufau is stopped by OSU tackle Vincent Taylor, a Madison graduate, for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the 48.
Third quarter (5:42): OSU 24, CU 0. Mason Rudolph passes to Blake Jarwin for a 6-yard TD, capping a 12-play, 71-yard drive that consumed 4:29. Ben Grogan adds PAT.
Third quarter (10:58): OSU 17, CU 0. Cowboys drive from their 25 to the CU 8 before stalling. Ben Grogan misses a 25-yard field-goal attempt.
Note: Steven Montez still at quarterback for the Buffaloes.
Halftime: OSU 17, CU 0.
First-half notes: OSU quarterback Mason Rudolph has completed 15 of 20 passes for 192 yards and one TD. James Washington finished the first half with seven receptions for 116 yards and one TD. The Cowboys have outgained CU 282-153, getting 66 rushing and 216 passing. Buffaloes quarterback Sefo Liufau completed 6 of 10 passes for only 53 yards and was sacked twice in the first half. Liufau left the game with an undisclosed injury with 5:30 left in the half. He was replaced by Steven Montez, who was 3 of 5 for 53 yards. Montez completed a 38-yard pass to Phillip Lindsay that gave CU a first down at the Cowboys 38, but he next attempt was intercepted by cornerback Ashton Lampkin at the OSU 3.
Note: Tonight's attendance is 59,815. Lowest Alamo Bowl attendance since 2010 (57,593, Oklahoma State-Arizona).
Second quarter (7:00): OSU 17, CU 0. Mason Rudolph connects with James Washington for 5-yard TD pass, ending a seven-play, 66-yard drive that takes 2:17 off the clock. Ben Grogan adds the extra point.The key play in the march was a 42-yard completion from Rudolph to Washington that gave the Cowboys a first down at the CU 17.
Second quarter (11:15): OSU 10, CU 0. Chris Carson scores on a 10-yard run, capping a seven-play, 64-yard drive that consumed 2:36. The key play in the march was a 24-yard throwback pass from Caron to quarterback Mason Randolph that put the ball at the 10. Carson scored on the next play. Ben Grogan kicked the extra point.
End of first quarter: OSU 3, CU 0
First quarter (0:27): OSU 3, CU 0. CU's Chris Graham misses 47-yard field goal. The Buffs had driven from their 6 to the OSU 39 in 13 plays before Graham's kick sailed wide left.
First quarter (10:17): OSU 3, CU 0. Ben Grogan kicks a 28-yard field goal, capping a 10-play, 64-yard drive on the game's first possession. The key play in the drive was an 18-yard pass to Jalen McCleskey that gave the Cowboys a first down at the CU 19.
ALAMO BOWL: Four players from S.A.-area schools start for OSU defense
Valero Alamo Bowl
No. 10 Colorado (10-3) vs. No. 12 Oklahoma State (9-3)
Kickoff: 8 p.m., Thursday, Alamodome
CU’s last game: Lost to Washington 41-10, Dec. 2, Santa Clara, Calif.
OSU’s last game: Lost at Oklahoma 38-20, Dec. 3
Series record: CU leads 26-19-1
Notable: This is the highest ranked matchup in Alamo Bowl history
SAN ANTONIO – Oklahoma State junior cornerback Ramon Richards always has taken pride in his San Antonio inner-city roots.
A 2014 Brackenridge High School graduate, Richards relishes the opportunity to represent an area of the city often overlooked by recruiters from FBS schools.
“That’s something that we talk about a lot, I talk about with my friends back home from San Antonio,” Richards said this week. “Not a lot of people come out of there (inner city), so when I got my offer, it was really a big thing just for the area, and my friends back home.
“I still talk to them. And my family, they know I’m not doing this for myself. I’ve got a lot of people that I’m carrying with me. I do this for the guys that don’t get the opportunity because it doesn’t come often.”
Richards will be in the starting lineup with three other OSU defensive players from Greater San Antonio high schools when the No. 12 Cowboys (9-3) play No. 10 Colorado (10-3) in the Alamo Bowl at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Alamodome.
Richards, junior strong safety Tre Flowers (Judson), senior free safety Jordan Sterns (Steele) and junior lineman Vincent Taylor (Madison) all have played key roles on a team that has a chance to record OSU’s third 10-win season in the last four years. Sterns and Taylor earned All-Big 12 first-team honors this season and Flowers made the second unit.
“All these young men have been a great reason we’ve had some success on our side of the ball, causing turnovers and creating havoc and creating short fields for our offense,” defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. “It’s nothing to do with X’s and O’s. It has to do with the character of these young men and playing unselfish, and them playing for the guy beside them. So I’m proud to be associated with them, and I’m glad they’re here to represent us.”
The Cowboys have one offensive player who has been a leader on and off the field, fifth-year wide receiver Austin Hays, who graduated from Reagan. Hays has played in all 12 of OSU’s games this season, catching seven passes for 112 yards and one touchdown.
“Before the season started, I couldn’t draw a storybook ending like this,” Hays said, recalling how he felt when he learned the Cowboys were playing in the Alamo Bowl.
Sterns played on Steele’s Class 5A Division II state championship team as a junior in 2010. He is OSU’s leading tackler this season with 96 stops – 62 solo and 34 assists – and has three interceptions.
Sterns reflected on how far and the Cowboys’ program have come in the past five years.
“When Oklahoma State offered me, I thought – I mean, I was really excited,” he said. “I remember calling my mom and just being pretty emotional about it. I mean, it was pretty easy. They’ve been winning games ever since Coach Gundy got here, and the year they offered me, they had just won the Fiesta Bowl. It was a no-brainer for me.”
Taylor, 6-foot-3 and 310 pounds, has 44 tackles this season, including a team-leading 12 for loss. He also is No. 1 in sacks with six.
“You just look at the stat sheet, he’s been very productive, good leader, very quiet young man, but he’s always handled himself great,” Spencer said. “I’m just glad he’s had the recognition this year just because of a lot of production that he’s had.”
A New Orleans native, Taylor was a 10-year-old fifth-grader in September 2005 when he and family moved to San Antonio after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
“Well, one of the things my dad always mentioned to me is it’s just a sign from God,” Taylor said. “He took me back home last year to play in the Superdome for the Sugar Bowl, and now he’s taking me back home this year to my second home to play in the Alamo Bowl.
“New Orleans always will be home to me, but I love San Antonio. It’ll always be my second home. It’s a great experience I get to share with these guys and my teammates and my coaches, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Flowers has made 56 tackles – 41 solo and 15 assists – and forced two fumbles this season. A 2013 Judson graduate, he was redshirted as a freshman.
So how big will playing in the Alamo Bowl be for Flowers?
“It’s always a blessing to play in any game,” Flowers said. “Fortunately, it’s a bowl game. Even more fortunate to be back home with my friends and family, so I’m real grateful. I’m blessed to have this opportunity.”
Spencer also had good things to say about Flowers.
“Tre is a very quiet young man and wants to be great,” he said. “He loves football, has great length, which enables him to cover a lot of space, and great attitude.”
While Steele, Judson, Reagan and Madison traditionally have made long playoff runs and drawn the media attention that goes with success, San Antonio ISD schools such as Brackenridge play in the long shadow the powerhouse programs cast.
“That always gave me more incentive to go out there and compete because I knew we had some good athletes in the SAISD,” said Richards, who was a quarterback at Brack. “It’s just a matter of having a plan and having faith in that plan.”
Richards started nine games as a freshman at OSU in 2014, and has only gotten better each season. He ranks fourth on the team in tackles with 60 (46 solo and 14 assists) and has three interceptions.
“He has the great ability to mix a love of playing the game with competing,” Spencer said of Richards. “You just spend around two minutes around him and you can see that gleam in his eye, and he’s what you need out there.”
Flowers smiled when he was asked how it feels to play on a defense that starts four players from Greater San Antonio high schools.
“We take a lot of pride,” he said. “Like I said, all the San Antonio defenders are starting over Dallas and Houston players. It’s a little chip on our shoulder we’ve got.”