For two teams trying to stay perfect on the season, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M sure made a lot of mistakes.
It came down to Jerrod Johnson making one too many for the Aggies.
Shaun Lewis intercepted Johnson's pass in the final seconds and Dan Bailey kicked a 40-yard field goal as time expired to lift Oklahoma State to a 38-35 victory over Texas A&M on Thursday night.
Johnson turned the ball over five times, including a key fumble that led to a Cowboys touchdown in the fourth quarter and his fourth interception that Lewis returned 28 yards to set up the game-winner. The Cowboys (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) rallied from a 14-point deficit only to let Texas A&M (3-1, 0-1) do the same, and nearly win the game, too.
"It was just a very emotional game that had a number of mistakes," Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said, "and we were able to capitalize on the last one."
Johnson threw two touchdown passes in the final 5½ minutes and had a chance to lead the Aggies on a winning drive of their own before he overthrew a pass into the arms of Lewis, who fell down at the 40-yard line with 16 seconds left. Oklahoma State picked up 17 yards on two plays before sending on Bailey.
The Cowboys flooded onto the field to celebrate their first three-game winning streak in a series that had been dominated by Texas A&M until recently. The Aggies had won 10 of the first 12 games between the teams following the creation of the Big 12.
"It was a roller coaster for sure. I thought maybe they were going to get a game-winning attempt," said Bailey, who made the first winning kick of his career. "But our defense stepped up and made a big play and we got a chance to win it."
Johnson threw for 409 yards and a career-best five touchdowns but it was his final pass in the meeting of surging Big 12 South rivals that likely will be remembered. In the process, he broke A&M's career record for passing yards and Jeff Fuller set a new school record with his 20th touchdown catch.
"This is a tough loss. Going into the season I circled this game on my calendar as a kind of catalyst for the season," Johnson said. "We talked about it as a team. It was an opportunity for us to show something on national television. We came out and competed, we fought hard, but at the same time we have to find a way to win these type of games."
Brandon Weeden fumbled and threw two interceptions to help Texas A&M build an early 14-0 lead, but shrugged off the turnover problems to throw for 284 yards and two touchdowns.
"This game is not going to be perfect all the time," Weeden said. "You can't run perfect plays every time. You're not going to make good decisions every time. You've just got to live with it, put it behind you and move on to the next play."
It was the second time in as many tries that Weeden engineered a rally from a double-digit deficit in a Thursday night showcase game.
Weeden's first action outside of mop-up duty came while bringing Oklahoma State back from an 11-point, second-half deficit to beat Colorado on a Thursday night last season. That's also the only other time in recent years that the Cowboys wore the black jerseys they sported against the Aggies.
"I don't know what it is, but I know when we put those on, we've got that little combination," Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon said.
This time, Gundy said he thought his team was showing signs of being "weak." He saw too many players limping around and letting their heads hang down, and he addressed it in the locker room at halftime.
"No matter what happens in a game, we're not going to show signs of being fatigued or weak," he said. "They picked it up after that."
Weeden completed 13 of 15 passes for 184 yards on three scoring drives as Oklahoma State rallied to tie it at 21. Kendall Hunter had a 2-yard TD run in between Weeden's 38-yard scoring pass to tailback Joseph Randle and the tying 29-yard strike to Blackmon.
It was Blackmon's 10th touchdown in four games, the most in the country.
Oklahoma State went up 28-21 after Johnson's third interception of the game led to Hunter's 7-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.
On A&M's next drive, Johnson dropped the ball, clutched in his right hand, while trying to fight off pressure from Jamie Blatnick. Oklahoma State's Darius Hart rolled on top of the ball, and James Thomas came running up to grab it and race 63 yards to put the Cowboys up by two touchdowns.
Johnson bounced back to lead an 80-yard drive that spanned 7½ minutes, zipping a 4-yard TD pass to Kenric McNeal on fourth down to keep the Aggies alive. Oklahoma State went three-and-out, and Johnson needed just four passes to tie it again on a 28-yard score to Ryan Swope.
Oklahoma State got one first down before punting the ball back to A&M with 1:16 left, and the Aggies were near midfield when Johnson committed his 10th turnover in the past two games -- and it finally cost him.
"I made too many mistakes out there tonight," Johnson said. "We played OK in spurts on offense and defense but never together. It's hard to beat teams in the Big 12 when you turn the ball over like we did."