STILLWATER, Okla. – For a season opener, the Oklahoma State Cowboys gave their fans a little bit of everything Saturday afternoon.
The Cowboys rolled to an easy 61-7 victory over Southeastern Louisiana – outscoring the Lions 21-0 in the first seven minutes – despite fewer than 400 yards of offense. OSU has now won its last 21 home openers.
The lopsided score was a result of head coach Mike Gundy’s team scoring in a variety of unconventional ways.
True freshman Madre Harper put the Cowboys on the scoreboard after OSU’s opening drive resulted in Zach Sinor’s punt deep into Southeastern Louisiana territory that Javon Tillman failed to catch around the 5-yard line. The ball bounced into the end zone where Harper, the true freshman from Arlington, Texas, recovered for OSU’s first touchdown of the season.
OSU entered the game leading the country in non-offensive touchdowns scored since 2010 with 37. The Cowboys added two more Saturday, getting fumble recovery scores from Harper and then another from Ramon Richards in the third quarter.
"That was a good day for us, and I thought we played fairly well," OSU head coach Mike Gundy said. "We were able to get a lot of players some quality work. We got some young guys, guys that are inexperienced, on video so that will be really good tape for us to teach with.
"I thought the guys that we would want to play well, the marquee guys, played well. We made a few strikes running the ball. How much better we are at it, I'm not sure. It looks like it to me that we're a little better at it. We certainly can't cancel practice. I thought the defense played well and gave up one pass play. I don't think the ones gave up any points. Overall, I thought we played pretty well. We were able to use several kickers and work on special teams there.
"We asked them to come out and play well early and take the game over, and they did that. We're going to let them enjoy this one tonight with their family and then come backtomorrow and get ready for Central Michigan."
It didn’t take long before the Cowboys offense puts its first points on the scoreboard – thanks to the defense forcing the second Lion turnover in the first five minutes of the game. Defensive end Cole Walterscheid’s hit separated the ball from Lions quarterback D’Shaie Landor and strong safety Tre Flowers recovered the fumble at the Southeastern Louisiana 36.
Senior running back Chris Carson’s 14-yard touchdown run just moments later gave the Cowboys a 14-0 lead just a little more than four minutes into the game.
The first of two Mason Rudolph touchdown passes to Jhajuan Seales made it 21-0 in favor of the Cowboys, and Barry J. Sanders’ 1-yard scoring run and Ben Grogan’s 32-yard field goal made it 31-0 early in the second quarter.
The only question after that was how many of the 50,079 fans inside Boone Pickens Stadium would stick around to the end – the answer was only a few thousand – but most were still around at the start of the second half to see one of the game’s best plays.
Southeastern Louisiana received the opening kickoff of the second half. But Landor turned the ball over again on second-and-10 from the 22-yard line, fumbling when OSU linebacker Devante Averette stripped him of the ball. But when Averette tried to scoop the football up and score, he mishandled it and appeared to knock it out of bounds, which would have given possession back to the Lions.
But Averette dove out of bounds and threw the ball back into the field before he hit the ground. Cowboys cornerback Ramon Richards caught the ball and ran nine yards into the end zone for a touchdown to give the Cowboys a 38-7 lead.
The Cowboys would add another Rudolph-to-Seales touchdown pass (of 16 yards) and a Jeff Carr 1-yard scoring run to go up 52-7 at the end of the third quarter.
OSU will be back in action at Boone Pickens Stadium next Saturday when Central Michigan makes the trip to Stillwater. The Chippewas opened the season last Thursday with a 49-3 victory over Presbyterian.