EL PASO, DEC. 25 -- Thurman Thomas fueled the Oklahoma State offense with a Sun Bowl-record performance, but it took a defensive stand on a two-point conversion attempt to preserve the Cowboys' 35-33 victory over West Virginia yesterday.

Thomas' fourth touchdown run, a four-yarder with 5:13 remaining, rallied the 11th-ranked Cowboys from a 10-point halftime deficit to a 35-27 lead in the snow-covered Sun Bowl.

But quarterback Major Harris brought the Mountaineers back with two long runs -- both on fourth-and-one -- and Craig Taylor scored on a six-yard run up the middle with 1:13 left to cut the lead to 35-33.

The Mountaineers then went for a Christmas tie and lost.

Harris, under intense pressure, scrambled before finding Keith Winn near the goal line, but the tight end was stopped by Shawn Mackey at the 1. Oklahoma State then recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock.

Thomas carried a Sun Bowl-record 33 times for 157 yards, including 93 in the second half, and set another Sun Bowl record with scoring runs of 5, 9, 4 and 4 yards. West Virginia's A.B. Brown rushed 32 times for 167 yards and two touchdowns.

Thomas, Oklahoma State's all-time leading rusher, ended his career with 5,218 yards, 1,801 this season.

West Virginia.....7....17.....3.......6.......33

Oklahoma St.......14....0.....14......7.......35

OSU -- Thomas 5 run (Blanchard kick)

WVU -- Brown 1 run (Baumann kick)

OSU -- Thomas 9 run (Blanchard kick)

WVU -- Brown 5 run (Baumann kick)

WVU -- FG Baumann 33

WVU -- Warren 23 interception return (Baumann kick)

OSU -- Thomas 4 run (Blanchard kick)

WVU -- FG Baumann 38

OSU -- Dillard 6 pass from Gundy (Blanchard kick)

OSU -- Thomas 4 run (Blanchard kick)

WVU -- Taylor 6 run (pass failed)

A -- 43,240.

WVU.....OSU

First downs...........22......23

Rushes-yards..........70-331..47-185

Passing...............54......161

Return Yards..........23......32

Comp-Att-Int..........2-7-1 ..12-18-2

Punts.................3-41....2-33

Fumbles-Lost..........1-0.....0-0

Penalties-Yards.......8-79....2-15

Time of Possession...32:29....7:31INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

RUSHING -- West Virginia, Brown 32-167, Harris 24-103, Taylor 12-58. Oklahoma St., Thomas 33-157, Sanders 6-19.

PASSING -- West Virginia, Harris 2-7-1-54. Oklahoma St., Gundy 12-18-2-161.

RECEIVING -- West Virginia, Bell 1-45, Winn 1-9. Oklahoma St., Dykes 3-72, Thomas 3-20, Dillard 3-18, Williams 1-20.