Updated at: 12/01/2012 4:35 PM
By DAVID JIMENEZ
(AP) WACO, Texas - A sluggish start and one defensive letdown kept No. 24 Oklahoma State from continuing its recent dominance of Baylor.
Lache Seastrunk rushed for 178 yards, including diving in to complete a 76-yard touchdown run after cramping up, and Nick Florence passed for 296 yards to lead Baylor past the Cowboys 41-34 Saturday.
The Cowboys (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) fell behind 24-3 in the second quarter before rallying within a touchdown with 5:30 left in the game.
On the next play from scrimmage, Seastrunk broke free up the middle for his long scoring run. The sophomore running back cramped up about 25 yards short of the end zone before stumbling in just over the goal line.
"We gave up big plays because we weren’t in the right position," Oklahoma State senior linebacker Alex Elkins said. "They capitalized. It’s just going to happen."
Oklahoma State came in having won 15 of its last 16 over Baylor, including the last six by an average of 31.7 points per game.
Baylor linebacker Eddie Lackey returned an interception for a touchdown in the first quarter, and the Bears scored on their next two possessions to take a three-touchdown advantage.
"I know all the guys felt we could score in a quick fashion," Cowboys quarterback Clint Chelf said. "We felt that we could keep going. We just needed a couple of breaks and we did not get them."
J.W. Walsh’s second rushing touchdown of the game capped an 88-yard drive and brought Oklahoma State within 34-27.
Seastrunk scored the game-sealing touchdown on Baylor’s next drive.
The transfer from Oregon raced past three Cowboys defenders before he just barely made it into the end zone. Seastrunk remained on the ground for a couple of minutes before limping off the field.
Bears coach Art Briles said Seastrunk experienced leg cramps on his last carry of the game.
"We’ve been harping on him about finishing," Florence said. "For someone to cramp and pull up like that, that’s inspiring. He’s an outstanding player."
Baylor (7-5, 4-5) has won at least seven games in three straight seasons - the first time the Bears have done that since 1949-51.
The Bears won four of their final five games to become bowl eligible for the third straight season.
"The food is going to taste good for the next three weeks," Briles said. "The guys feel good about the way they finished the season."
Josh Stewart had 147 yards receiving and a touchdown and Joseph Randle added 139 rushing for Oklahoma State, who was coming off a 51-48 overtime loss last weekend to Oklahoma in the Bedlam rivalry.
Chelf threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to David Glidden to make it 41-34 with 1:16 left in the game.
Baylor recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock to secure its third straight victory.
Cowboys coach Mike Gundy insisted there were no lingering effects after the tough loss to the Sooners.
"I would hate to hang my hat on that," Gundy said. "I do not think there was a hangover. If there was, that was my fault because that is my responsibility."
Florence threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Tevin Reese and the senior quarterback also rushed for 71 yards and a score in the final home game of his career.
Florence has thrown for 4,121 yards this season and is 172 yards shy of breaking the school’s single-season passing mark, which Robert Griffin III set last season.
"To be playing our best ball at the end of year is what you want to do," Florence said. "We want to carry on the streak and get to eight wins. We’re hot right now and our goal is stay hot."
The Bears took the lead for good early on Lackey’s second interception return for a touchdown in two games.
The junior linebacker picked off a short pass in the flat and ran untouched for a 26-yard touchdown that gave Baylor a 10-3 lead with 7:58 remaining in the first quarter.
The Bears scored on their next two possessions to build a 24-3 lead. Glasco Martin powered in for a 2-yard touchdown run to cap a 16-play, 98-yard drive.
Florence then found Reese for a 75-yard touchdown pass. Reese caught the ball at the 40 and raced past three Oklahoma State defenders into the end zone.
The Cowboys got within 24-17 with consecutive touchdowns. Walsh had a 1-yard run and Chelf threw a 15-yard scoring pass to Stewart.
Chelf was 30 of 51 for 333 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Florence’s 3-yard touchdown run made it 31-17 with 3:33 left in the first half.
Oklahoma State tight end Blake Jackson dropped two potential touchdown passes in the game. He had one on the Cowboys’ first drive of the game and again early in the third quarter.
The Cowboys were able to kick field goals after the drops, including Quinn Sharp’s 43-yarder in the third quarter that made it 31-20.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)