STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Backup quarterback J.W. Walsh ran for three touchdowns and passed for two more to help No. 14 Oklahoma State defeat Kansas 58-10 on Saturday, hours after a fatal crash near the stadium put a harrowing halt on the school’s homecoming festivities.
Four people were killed and dozens injured when a woman suspected of driving under the influence plowed a car into a crowd at the homecoming parade. Oklahoma State considered postponing the game, but in the end, opted to go ahead with it.
"The decision was made that we’re going to play, and we’re going to remember the victims at the game," OSU President Burns Hargis said at a news conference after the crash. "We’re going to move forward, but we will remember what happened today."
The flag at Boone Pickens Stadium was lowered to half-staff and Cowboys players knelt down on the field and prayed before the coin flip.
Even as the game began, some of the bodies remained at the scene of the crash less than three blocks away from the stadium. National Guard troops kept watch as officials with the Red Cross and state medical examiner’s office continued their work.
Hundreds of fans wearing the school’s bright orange and black colors walked by the intersection as they headed to the game. Some lingered to look at the aftermath: water bottles, blankets, lawn chairs and other items strewn all over the intersection. A gray car with a smashed side and shattered windshield remained at the scene, as did a crumpled motorcycle.
Against the somber backdrop, the Cowboys dominated early against Kansas. They quickly forced Kansas into a 3-and-out on the contest’s opening possession. Then they marched 70 yards on eight plays, taking a 7-0 lead on Walsh’s 3-yard TD run with 2:50 gone in the first quarter.
Walsh made it 14-0 with 2:47 remaining in the first on a 1-yard run, holding the ball out over the pylon as he dove down the sideline on a third-and-goal situation.
Mason Rudolph completed 20 of 26 passes for 305 yards and had a touchdown for Oklahoma State (7-0, 4-0 Big 12). Kansas (0-7, 0-4) lost its 10th straight game overall and 36th on the road.
Overall, Walsh gained 24 yards on six rushes and was 5 for 5 passing for 68 yards, before freshman Taylor Cornelius took over late in the third.
Ryan Willis was 12 of 31 passing for 191 yards and one touchdown, with two interceptions, for Kansas (0-7, 0-4), which lost its 10 straight contest overall and 36th in a row on the road.
Sympathy came from all over college football on social media, where coaches, players and alums offered tweets of support. In Norman, the University of Oklahoma held a moment of silence for its rival before kicking off against Texas Tech.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, an OSU grad who was in attendance at the game, agreed with the decision to play.
"I think it is important for Oklahomans to be able to support each other, especially when our hearts are broken and we’re hurting," Fallin said. "This is one of the ways we can be together and support each other during that time."
Some fans left early, and had to walk again past the intersection, which was not yet clear. Sophomore Sam Trautman was in the crowd with friends, and noted the silence as the victims were remembered before kickoff.
"Normally, you can’t hear and if you want to talk you have to yell," he said. "You could hear the people outside ordering their food from the concession stand."