September 27, 2008

Cowboys bash Trojans, 55-24

STILLWATER - What goes around comes around.

A year after being straight-up embarrassed by Troy on national television, Oklahoma State finally got its chance to strike back.

And the Cowboys did just that.

Scoring early and often, the Pokes opened up a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, browbeating the the Trojans 55-24 in front of 52,463 fans at Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday night. The mark is a new attendance record in Lewis Field/Boone Pickens Stadium history, topping the old record of 51,416 against Oklahoma in 1996 - the 19th time in school history a crowd of 50,000 or above was reached..

OSU's offense saw little resistance from the Trojans. The Cowboys (4-0) scored on their first drive of the game, as well as five of the next six drives (one punt, five TDs). Troy (2-2) did little to stop things, allowing individual Pokes to build up some nice game stats. The dynamic duo of Kendall Hunter and Dez Bryant both had big nights (again). Hunter ran the ball 24 times for 169 yards and two scores, while Bryant reeled in six passes for 118 yards and three touchdowns. In all, the Pokes put together 612 yards of total offense (358 rushing, 254 passing).

"It was a good game for us," head coach Mike Gundy said. "We played well on both sides of the ball. I was excited about no turnovers and forcing turnovers on the other side of the ball. We challenged our team to be physical this week and to play hard and fast. I was proud of them. I thought, offensively, we were very physical. I thought we blocked extremely well. Defensively when we gave up some plays we made big hits."

While the defense did make some nice plays - the unit forced three turnovers - they also had some mistakes. Overall, they turned in a respectable performance because they kept the Trojans under 25 points. But they faced real challenges in pass defense. Of the 416 total yards Troy accumulated, 272 came through the air. At multiple times during the game, the Trojans were able to dig themselves out of a hole with a timely pass that was met with poor coverage from the OSU secondary. This area was by far the Achilles' heel in what was an overall near-perfect night for the Pokes.

"We did a lot of pressure things," said defensive coordinator Tim Beckman. "When we asked for a four-man pressure - we've just got to continually work on getting better. We're not where we can just play rush four. The pressure that we were getting, they were bringing the max. We've got to get better at rush four and cover."

Zac Robinson also had a nice night, going 16-of-21 for 254 yards and three touchdown passes. His first half was especially solid, where he posted 213 yards and three touchdowns on 13-of-14 passing.

"Zac operated well," Gundy said. "He had pretty good statistics. He got lucky on one pass. He was fatigued and threw a poor ball and Dez came back and made him look good. He did a nice job of handling the offense."

On the rushing side, Robinson had 11 rushes for 39 yards.

"He needs to run the football better," Gundy said. "We knew this team had speed on defense and we needed to wear them down. His running game gives us another dimension."

On the other side of the field, Troy coach Larry Blakeney said he doesn't think the Trojans ran through OSU last year like OSU did on them Saturday night.

"Well, it was pretty obvious that we got a pretty good wood shedding tonight," Blakeney said. "One of the best offenses we've faced - period. They still, I think, are trying to rebuild a little bit on defense. They're a very good, very prolific offensive football team. They can do about anything. The quarterback really is the catalyst, but they've got a great player at wideout, at least one, in Bryant."

He added that this OSU could compete with the other OSU they played last weekend.

"I think these guys can compete with Ohio State," Blakeney said. "Depends on where they play, No. 1, and how they feel about it, No. 2. They've got a good enough team to beat Ohio State - they've got a good enough team to beat lots of people, but they've got to believe they can and they've got to be in the right frame of mind. … I think they're well coached and they've got key skill at critical positions on offense - I'd say every position, especially when you get (Brandon) Pettigrew back in there."

"We just didn't make enough big plays to stay in the game early," quarterback Jamie Hampton said. "We just had to battle the whole game and couldn't get the job done."

With non-conference play finished, the Pokes look ahead to Big 12 Conference play, which begins next weekend in Stillwater with a 6:05 p.m. contest against Texas A&M.

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