Rushing excellence

Vernand Morency rushed for 269 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-21 victory over Kansas. Morency had 170 yards in the third quarter alone.

Senior Day usually represents a time for a team's graduating class to have their final day in the sun.

And while Oklahoma State's seniors basked in the glow of a 44-21 victory over Kansas Saturday in Stillwater, a sophomore stole hero of the day honors.

Running back Vernand Morency juked, spun, powered and darted his way to a career-high 269 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries in place of injured backs Tatum Bell and Seymore Shaw.

"He jump starts pretty well, and he likes to show people that he can do that," said OSU coach Les Miles. "We turned to him today and said, ‘OK, we need you to play,' and he did."

Morency had 99 yards rushing in the first half, already a good performance. But the Cowboys took a slim 16-10 lead into halftime that closely mirrored the 16-14 lead a week ago against Texas.
In both games, the Cowboy offense made it deep into its opponent's territory, but couldn't punch the ball in the end zone.

The Texas game ended in a 55-16 Texas slaughtering, and the Cowboys needed to avoid a reoccurance with bowl destinations on the line.

Morency and the offensive line took the game on their shoulders.

The Cowboys ran the ball to Morency for 12 of their 20 offensive plays in the third quarter, and Morency netted 170 yards and two touchdowns, much to the excitement and disbelief of his teammates.

"Oh my God. I didn't even know that," said OSU fullback Shawn Willis when he heard of Morency's 170-yard third quarter. "Oooooh, that is a big confidence builder. That means that the O-line, tight ends, me, the fullbacks and everybody was doin their job ... 170 in one quarter. Yeah, that's a great confidence builder. Some backs don't have that in a whole game, God."

A big part of his success, Morency said, was getting comfortable.

"He kind of just settled down (second half)," Willis said. "He was just running like he does in practice. He wasn't trying to do too much by himself. He was just taking what they would give him and making it work."

On an 82-yard drive late in the third, Morency blasted through the line for a 45-yarder, his longest carry of the game. During that drive, he rushed four times for 75 yards to all but clinch an OSU victory 37-13.

"The coaching staff put a great game plan together and the line, the whole time, was just running downfield," Morency said. "It made my job easy."

Morency broke out earlier this season against Louisiana-Lafayette. Coming in after Miles benched Bell for a first-quarter fumble, Morency ran 18 times for 189 yards and two touchdowns.

And while Morency's average yards per game when getting a majority of the carries is 229 yards, more than 100 yards better than Bell's average, Morency makes no mistake who the starter should be.

"Tatum, right now, is arguably the best back in America," Morency said. "Tatum is one of the best backs I've ever seen."

But Morency has topped Bell's best single game of 258 yards, and Morency's ranks No. 9 in OSU history.

"I don't think a lot of people thought that I was ready because I don't say much," Morency said. "I'm kind of quiet and low key."

And with all the off-the-field problems Morency has had, this game, much like his performance against ULL, serves as therapy.

"This whole year has kind of been a down year for me," Morency said. "The only closure that I get is on the football field. That's my home. That's where I can get out and relax."

Morency didn't play the entire fourth quarter, despite the possibility to climb the single-game ranks.

"There was some talk as to how long we would keep him in and let him run because there were some records out there," Miles said. "Mo deserved the opportunity to earn more yards, but for the team, we needed to get him on the sidelines and make sure that we take that to Baylor with us."

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