Second Half Domination

Oklahoma State gave voters in the college football polls plenty of reason to remove the Cowboys from the top 25 if all they watched was the first half of Friday night's nationally televised game against the University of Louisiana. But the 22nd-ranked Cowboys exploded in the second half en route to a 54-28 victory over the Ragin' Cajuns to improve to 5-0.

Oklahoma State struggled throughout the first half – and trailed 21-17 at halftime – but outscored its Sun Belt Conference opponent 37-7 in the second half of its first road game of the season.

The Cowboys have a 5-0 record for the first time since winning their first seven games of the 2008 season, and have won the first five games of the season for just the fifth time since 1946.

"We were in a hornet's nest at the end of the first half. The fans were fired up, the students were right behind us, and they fired out about every comment and every adjective there is in the book," OSU head coach Mike Gundy said.

"The coaches did a great job (in making adjustments at halftime) and our senior and veteran players were very instrumental in the second-half adjustments.

"Jamie Blatnick, Shane Jarka who didn't get to play, Ugo Chinasa, (Justin) Blackmon, Kendall (Hunter) in his own way, Levy Adcock, a guy who hadn't played too much ... there were a number of guys who provided leadership at halftime, and they did it in the right way," Gundy added.

The OSU offense had a pair of turnovers in the first half (both interceptions) and the Cowboy defense couldn't keep the Louisiana offense off the field. A week after allowing Texas A&M to run 106 offensive plays, the Cowboys allowed the Ragin' Cajuns to control the ball in the first half, running 57 plays and having a decisive 21:04 to 8:56 edge in time of possession.

But the second half was an entirely different picture. Weeden, Kendall Hunter and company scored on seven of their eight second-half possessions (four touchdowns and three Dan Bailey field goals), while the Cowboy defense shut out the Ragin' Cajuns. Louisiana's only second half points came via a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

The Cowboys took the lead 24-21 by driving 68 yards to open the second half. Hunter scored on a 1-yard run to put his team ahead for good.

Senior cornerback Andrew McGee's interception on Louisiana's first play after the Cowboy touchdown gave Weeden, Hunter and the offense the ball back. Weeden found Michael Harrison on a 24-yard touchdown pass just five plays later.

Then the Cowboys took over on their own 20-yard line after a punt. But it took just seven plays to go 80 yards with Weeden teaming up with Hubert Anyiam on a 22-yard touchdown pass. Three possessions, three touchdowns in less than nine minutes, and OSU now led 38-21.

Bailey added three field goals in the second half – including a 25-yarder after the Cowboys had a first-and-goal opportunity from the 2-yard line which probably should have been another touchdown – and the Cowboys capped the scoring with Weeden's 1-yard touchdown pass to Louisiana native Wilson Youman in the game's final five minutes.

The senior kicker from Mustang, Okla., was outstanding a week after kicking the game-winning field goal against Texas A&M. He was perfect on four field goals (and is now 11-for-11 on the season), including a pair of 52 yarders and a 47-yarder.

"There's no question he was as big as anybody in the game," Gundy said. "You ask him to come out and kick two field goals of over 50 yards? Are you kidding me? We have a lot of confidence in him.

"Football is important to Dan, he's got a good demeanor and works extremely hard. Players who have a good demeanor, it's important to them, and work hard, good things happen to them."

Justin Blackmon entered Friday night's game with more receiving yards and more touchdown receptions than any other receiver in the nation, and he did his part to get the Cowboys to 5-0. He had a career-high 13 catches for a career-best 190 yards, including touchdown receptions of 11 and 37 yards.

Blackmon, the third-year sophomore from Ardmore, Okla., now has 47 receptions for 748 yards and 11 touchdowns in five games.

"Justin is obviously playing very well. Justin's strength is still his body control and he really catches the ball well," said Gundy. "What I'm seeing more and more of him is that he is able to take hits and land on his head, whatever it may be, and he goes right back in the game. His body language is terrific."

Weeden completed 29 of 47 passes for 351 yards and five touchdowns, but had those two first-half interceptions.

The Cowboy defense did the job in the second half after having trouble slowing down the Ragin' Cajun offense in the first half. After allowing 57 plays for 230 yards in the first half, defensive coordinator Bill Young's crew only allowed 30 plays for 118 yards in the second half, and 54 of those came against the second team defense in the final five minutes of the game.

Oklahoma State will return to playing next Saturday – for the first time in three weeks – after playing their last two games on Thursday and Friday nights. The Cowboys will face Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, a place that Oklahoma State has not won a football game since 1944.


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