Orange-Powered Defense

STILLWATER - Brandon Weeden and the Oklahoma State offense owe Orie Lemon, Justin Gent and the rest of the Cowboy defense a big thank you. Just a week after Weeden and the offense put 65 points on the scoreboard, it's the Oklahoma State defense that deserves credit for Saturday night's 41-38 victory over Troy at Boone Pickens Stadium.

The Cowboy defense forced the Trojans to turn the ball over four times in the second half (all fumbles), including Lemon's recovery after Justin Gent knocked the ball loose from Troy quarterback Corey Robinson with less than a minute to play, to clinch the victory.

But it took every last play by coordinator Bill Young's defense as Weeden did not look like the same player who led the Cowboy offense to 544 total yards in his first start at quarterback in more than nine years.

Nursing a bruised thumb on his throwing hand, Weeden turned the ball over four times Saturday night (two fumbles and a pair of interceptions), including a fumble while trying to take a knee to run out the clock that Troy recovered with 54 seconds to play.

But on first down from the Troy 34-yard line, Gent hit Robinson in the backfield while he was looking down the field for a receiver and Lemon recovered. The Cowboys, with Weeden in the shotgun formation instead of attempting to take the ball from under center with his injured thumb, ran two plays to run out the clock and improve to 2-0.

"We put our defense in a very difficult situation (at the end of the game)," Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy said. "A win is a win but we have a lot of things to work on."

Oklahoma State won despite turning the ball over five times (three fumbles and two interceptions) and being penalized 12 times for 139 yards.

But the Cowboys were able to escape with the three-point victory because they forced four turnovers (three fumbles when Troy was inside the 40-yard line).

And while it was the OSU defense led by Lemon, Gent and Company, the Cowboys had numerous big plays that led to the victory, including:
** Josh Cooper's 66-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter that gave the Cowboys a 34-27 lead that they would never relinquish, and the junior receiver also set career highs with eight receptions for 114 yards;
** Kendall Hunter rushing for 157 yards and two touchdowns on a career-high 28 carries, and he also had a 100-yard kickoff return for a score called back because of a penalty;
** Justin Blackmon setting career highs for receptions (10) and receiving yards (132) for the second consecutive week, including TD catches of 2 and 45 yards;
** Lemon recovering two fumbles, including the game-clinching turnover with 47 seconds remaining, and finishing the game with a career-high 13 tackles (11 solo and two assisted);
** Freshman cornerback Devin Hedgepeth, who made his first career start for the injured Andrew McGee, forced Troy standout Jerrel Jernigan to fumble inside the 5-yard line when the Trojans were prepared to take their first lead of the second half, and safety Victor Johnson recovered at the 3.

"We made enough mistakes tonight to lose about six or eight ballgames in one, and they did too, and that's the only thing that made it 41-38 instead of one of us winning by a larger margin," said Troy head coach Larry Blakeney.

"We got a chance playing against a team like Oklahoma State. They're a young football team; we're a young football team. We battled hard against each other and we came out on the short end of the stick," Blakeney continued.

The Cowboys will be back in action next Saturday when they face Tulsa for the first time since 2004. The Hurricane defeated Bowling Green 33-20 on Saturday to improve to 1-1.


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