STILLWATER – No one saw this coming. Oklahoma State had forced only one turnover in its first two games this season, and Texas-San Antonio entered the game ranked 31st nationally in fewest turnovers. But the Cowboys forced seven turnovers – third-most in a game in school history – and scored two defensive touchdowns Saturday on the way to an impressive 69-14 victory over the Roadrunners at Boone Pickens Stadium.
The 25th-ranked Cowboys improve to 3-0 heading into Big 12 Conference play, beginning next Saturday at Texas.
It didn’t take long for the OSU defense to show that this wasn’t going to be easy for Larry Coker – the Cowboys offensive coordinator when Mike Gundy play at OSU in the 1980s – and the Roadrunners. A blitzing Miketavius Jones jarred the ball loose from UTSA quarterback Blake Bogenschutz and Cowboys linebacker Devante Averette scooped it up and ran six yards for a touchdown to give OSU a 7-0 lead just 45 seconds after the opening kickoff.
The Cowboys capitalized on the second turnover – a fumble recovery by linebacker Jordan Burton on Jordan Sterns’ hit on a scrambling Bogernschutz – just a few minutes later when Chris Carson went 26 yards untouched to make it 14-0 with 12:33 still left in the first quarter.
It didn’t get much better for the Roadrunners, who lost five of six fumbles and threw a pair of interceptions.
“It's been a while since we've had a day like that,” said Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer. “I've been laboring and sweating it out. I've been stressing for us to cause them and for us to get them was one of those exhale moments. Hopefully those things are contagious and hopefully that keeps some blood in the water and it'll make them crave it more. So we'll just keep attacking like we always have.”
Coaches always stress that you play how you practice, and that was certainly the case for the Cowboys on Saturday.
“That's what we practice. Everyday in practice we have to get seven turnovers throughout the day,” said cornerback Ramon Richards, whose first quarter interception led to Ben Grogan’s 24-yard field goal to give the Cowboys a 17-0 lead. “All we did was come out and implement what we work on all week, so it's nothing new to us, it's just our work paying off.”
Kevin Peterson’s interception of Bogenschutz and 9-yard return in the second quarter set the Cowboys up again in UTSA territory. The Cowboys capitalized on Chris Carson’s 1-yard scoring run to go up 24-7, and OSU tacked on another score late in the first half when Mason Rudolph teamed up with Jhajuan Seales on a 6-yard touchdown pass to make it 31-7 at halftime.
In addition to Averette, other Cowboys recovering UTSA fumbles were Burton (mentioned above), Dawson Bassett and Deric Robertson, who had two recoveries, including a 22-yard return for a touchdown with 1:25 remaining for OSU’s ninth and final touchdown of the day.
"That's a good win today,” OSU head coach Mike Gundy said. “I thought our guys played really well in all three phases. We don't need to say a lot about what the defense did for us after forcing that many turnovers.
“To be able to force those turnovers on special teams makes a big difference. There are only so many possessions that are gained when the defense gives the offense extra possessions. When you take those away from the other team, you're obviously going to have a chance to put up some big numbers.”
The Cowboys looked much better offensively too after struggling in wins over Central Michigan and Central Arkansas to open the season. OSU rolled up 529 total yards on 66 plays for an average of 8.0-yard per play. Chris Carson became the Cowboys first 100-yard rusher on the season, carrying 17 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
Also, Rudolph was 17-of-23 passing for 280 yards and two touchdowns – the 6-yarder to Seales late in the second quarter and then a 46-yarder to David Glidden in the third quarter. He should have had a third TD pass but Jeremy Seaton dropped what would have been a 20-yard pass in the end zone.
Coker was not pleased with what he saw from his Roadrunners, who have now lost to Arizona, Kansas State and OSU to open the season.
"Not a lot of good today from the Roadrunners. We turned the ball over seven times and gave up over 40 points in turnovers. We had no chance,” Coker said. “They are a good football team, but we knew that coming in. We are a lot better football team certainly than we played today. We have to be, but we were just a bad football team today. That's about all I can say.
"We didn't protect the football. We threw interceptions. We got stripped. They did a good job on defense and that's what they are coached to do. We work on it every day, but obviously we've got to coach it better and protect the ball better. I told our team we've got to play better and coach better."