John Hancock

Sun Bowl



Oklahoma St. 35

West Virginia 33 

Oklahoma State Fight Song


In the spring of 1987, West Virginia was the scene of an historic battle for the starting quarterback position. Browning Nagle and a freshman named Major Harris fought in spring practice and Harris won the starting job. Nagle transferred to Louisville. Harris and the Mountaineers landed a bid in the Sun Bowl against Oklahoma State when Ohio State backed out. One of the main reasons the bowl picked West Virginia was because of its exciting, young quarterback.


Oklahoma State was led by brilliant running back, Thurman Thomas, who would close out his career in the game (video). It was a snowy, bitter cold Sun Bowl before a crowd of 43,240 and a CBS national television audience on Christmas Day. It was probably the most entertaining game of the 1987-88 bowl season.

The Cowboys scored first on a five-yard run by Thomas, set up by a 44 yard pass from Mike Gundy to Hart Lee Dykes Dykes. West Virginia tied it 7-7 later in the first quarter on a one yard Anthony Brown run, but OSU came back to take the lead 14-7 on a nine-yard run by Thomas.


The OSU lead was short lived. West Virginia scored 17 unanswered points in the second quarter on a 5 yard Brown run, a field goal by Charlie Baumann and a 23 yard interception return of a Gundy pass by Darnell Wilson. The two scoring drives were engineered by Harris and were for 80 and 74 yards. The Mountaineers led 24-14 at the half.


The first half had belonged to the WVU defense. The Mountaineers' Preston Waters blocked a Cary Cooper punt after the Cowboys drove to midfield, Rodney Wilson intercepted a Gundy pass at the Oklahoma State 42 to set up Baumann's 33-yard field goal, Darnell Warren returned the interception and Theron Ellis blocked Cary Blanchard's 38-yard field goal attempt with 53 seconds left in the half.

O-State’s comeback began in the third quarter when they went on a 56-yard, six-play drive to start the period. Thomas scored from four yards out to pull the Pokes to within three, 24-21. West Virginia answered with a 38 yard Baumann field goal to lead 27-21. The Cowboys took the lead with 1:43 left in the third quarter on a six yard pass from Gundy to J.R. Dillard that made it 28-27.


The Cowboys took a 35-27 lead in the fourth quarter on a four yard run by Thomas. On the 13-play, 74 yard drive, Thomas carried nine times. O-State had to hold one more time, however, as West Virginia drove for a touchdown with just 1:13 left.


Craig Taylor scored on a 6 yard run to pull the Mountaineers within two at 35-33. OSU defender Shawn Mackey’s goal line tackle on the two-point conversion try stopped West Virginia from tying the game in the final minute. After consecutive timeouts by both teams, Harris was chased out of the pocket and hit Keith Winn over the middle at the three. But Mackey spun Winn down a half-yard shy of the goal line.

The precipitation and high winds wreaked havoc with Oklahoma State much more than it did West Virginia. After a first-quarter squall rolled off the Franklin Mountains and left a half-inch of sleet and snow on the field, the Mountaineers established a running game and took control early.


Oklahoma State, which finished its season 10-2, lost only to No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 5 Nebraska. West Virginia finished 6-6, with five of its losses coming by five points or less.


Thurman Thomas Major Harris


Thomas carries through WVU.


Attendance- 43,240

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
OSU- Thomas 5 run (Blanchard kick)
WVU- Brown 1 run (Baumann kick)
OSU- Thomas 9 run (Blanchard kick)

Second Quarter
WVU- Brown 5 run (Baumann kick)
WVU- FG Baumann 33
WVU- Warren 23 pass interception (Baumann kick)

Third Quarter
OSU- Thomas 4 run (Blanchard kick)
WVU- FG Baumann 38
OSU- Dillard 6 pass from Gundy (Blanchard kick)

Fourth Quarter
OSU- Thomas 4 run (Blanchard kick)
WVU- Taylor 6 run (Two-point conversion failed)

Individual Statistics

OSU- Thomas 33-157, Sanders 6-19, Gundy 8-9
WVU- Brown 32-167, Harris 24-103, Taylor 12-58, Napoleon 2-3

OSU- Gundy 12-18-161
WVU- Harris 7-21-54

OSU- Dykes 3-72, Thomas 3-20, Williams 1-19, Dillard 3-18, Keith 1-16, Green 1-16
WVU- Bell 1-45, Winn 1-9