Cowboys Run Wild in Victory Over UCLA

OSU used one of the best rushing performances in school history – 424 yards on 67 carries – to capture its first season-opening victory in the Les Miles era. Vernand Morency's 261-yard effort helped the Cowboys to an impressive victory at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Oklahoma State used a strong running game on Saturday to defeat UCLA 31-20 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., to capture its first season opening victory in Les Miles' four years as head coach.

The Cowboys, behind the running of Vernand Morency, Greg Jones and Seymore Shaw, rushed for 424 yards (10th best in school history) on 67 carries to defeat the Bruins. Morency led the way with 261 rushing yards, which ranks 11th in the OSU record books, while Jones finished with 65 yards and Shaw had 64 yards.

Morency scored a pair of touchdowns, including a 22-yarder to give the Cowboys a 7-0 lead in the game's first five minutes. His second TD – a 1-yard run early in the second quarter – was the start of a 21-0 run by the Cowboys as they took control of the game.

"The line was just great today. Those guys were down there fighting in the trenches, and did a great job. My job was easy," said Morency, crediting tight ends Billy Bajema and Charlie Johnson, tackles Corey Hilliard and Kellen Davis, guards Sam Mayes and David Koenig and center Chris Akin. "There was not one play that the coaches called that when I was standing there in the huddle I didn't think we could take it to the house."

The OSU defense, despite giving up nearly 450 total yards, came up big with four turnovers (two fumble recoveries and two interceptions), while the Cowboy offense did not turn the ball over a single time.

OSU safety Jamie Thompson had an interception and fumble caused, linebacker Paul Duren recovered a fumble, cornerback Robert Jones was credited with a fumble recovery and safety Vernon Grant's interception with 3:44 remaining sealed the victory.

"The defense played extremely well and they got us the turnovers and that was the difference in the game," said OSU head coach Les Miles. "We did the things that we needed to do today to win, and fortunately it turned out for us."

The Cowboys took advantage of UCLA's first turnover, a fumble caused by Thompson's hit on Bruin receiver Craig Bragg that Jones recovered, to go 63 yards for the game's first score. Morency carried five times on the six-play drive which ended with the OSU junior going 22 yards up the middle for the TD. Freshman Jason Ricks' extra-point conversion gave the Cowboys a 7-0 lead.

UCLA scored on two of its next three possessions with tailback Manuel White scoring on a 60-yard run to tie the game and White going in from 4 yards out to give the Bruins a 14-7 lead with 1:35 left in the first quarter.

But the Cowboys dominated the next 16 minutes, scoring on all three of their second-quarter possessions.

OSU, after falling behind for the first and only time in the game, drove 60 yards in seven plays – Morency carried on five of the seven plays, including a 31-yard scamper to the UCLA 6 – to tie the game 14-14.

The Bruins drove to the Cowboy 15-yard line on their next possession, and appeared to be prepared to take the lead when linebacker Pagitte McGee and defensive tackle Walter Thomas separated the ball from UCLA tailback Maurice Drew. Duren recovered at the 19.

The Cowboys ran the ball right at the Bruins on the ensuring drive. Nine running plays – four different players carried on the drive – and 81 yards later the Cowboys were ahead 21-14, a lead they would never relinquish. Greg Jones scored the go-ahead TD on a 13-yard run around the right end.

But OSU wasn't finished running wild in the second period. Moments later, after a short UCLA punt, the Cowboys took over on the Bruins 40-yard line. Morency and fullback Julius Crosslin ran the ball down to the UCLA 15 where the Cowboys faced a third-and-seven situation. On a perfectly executed quarterback draw, Donovan Woods took off up field and jumped over a defender into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown run, and a 28-14 lead.

"I was kind of surprised it was so wide open," said Woods, the redshirt freshman who was making his first career start. "The line did a great job and the receivers stayed on their blocks."

UCLA's Justin Medlock kicked a 21-yard field on the final play of the first half to make it 28-17 at halftime. Medlock's 52-yard field goal with five minutes remaining in the third quarter pulled the Bruins within 28-20, but the Cowboys answered.

Once again, the Cowboys asked the offensive linemen to take control and they did. Taking over on their own 20, the Cowboys ran the ball eight consecutive plays – the big gainer being a 38-yard run by Morency on a third-and-two play from the 28. However, the drive stalled at the UCLA 19 and the Cowboys called upon freshman kicker Jason Ricks to attempt his first collegiate field goal. Ricks was perfect on a 35-yard field goal as the Cowboys went back up 31-20.

But the Bruins would not go away without making some noise. Tailback Maurice Drew's 57-yard run on a screen pass put UCLA on OSU's 12 midway through the fourth quarter. On the next play, however, OSU defensive tackle Clay Coe deflected UCLA quarterback Drew Olson's pass, it bounced off the hands of intended receiver Tab Perry and Thompson picked it off, returning it 26 yards.

The Cowboys used a little time off the clock before being forced to punt. Cole Farden's punt was returned 33 yards by Bragg to the Cowboys' 49, and the Bruins still had life with about four minutes to play. But Vernon Grant ended all thoughts of a UCLA comeback by stripping Tab Perry of the ball for an interception two plays later. The Cowboys were able to run out the final 3:44 and clinch the victory.

The Cowboys play their home opener next Saturday (Sept. 11) when they host Tulsa at Boone Pickens Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

OSU 7 21 3 0 - 31
UCLA 14 3 3 0 - 20
OSU--Vernand Morency 22 run up the middle for a touchdown (Jason Ricks kick), 6 plays, 63 yards (OSU 7, UCLA 0)
UCLA--Manuel White 60 run left side for a touchdown (Justin Medlock kick), 5 plays, 80 yards (OSU 7, UCLA 7)
UCLA--Manuel White 4 run up the middle for a touchdown (Medlock kick), 6 plays, 53 yards (OSU 7, UCLA 14)
OSU--Vernand Morency 1 run up middle for a touchdown (Ricks kick), 7 plays, 60 yards (OSU 14, UCLA 14)
OSU--Greg Jones 13 run around right end for a touchdown (Ricks kick), 9 plays, 81 yards (OSU 21, UCLA 14)
OSU--Donovan Woods 15 run around right end for a touchdown (Ricks kick), 7 plays, 40 yards (OSU 28, UCLA 14)
UCLA--Medlock 21 field goal, 15 plays, 76 yards (OSU 28, UCLA 17)
UCLA--Medlock 52 field goal, 6 plays, 16 yards (OSU 28, UCLA 20)
OSU-- Ricks 35 field goal, 8 plays, 61 yards (OSU 31, UCLA 20)

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