Big Plays Help Cowboys Win Big

STILLWATER – Mike Gundy has been saying that Oklahoma State needs to make more big plays to win football games. The Cowboys showed Saturday night in a 52-10 rout of Missouri State in the 2006 season opener at Boone Pickens Stadium that they have more playmakers – in the likes of newcomers Adarius Bowman, Perrish Cox, Chris Collins and Keith Toston – than they had a year ago.

Even though Bobby Reid threw for four first-half touchdowns, Mike Hamilton rushed for 155 yards and D'Juan Woods made one of his patented go-up-and-take-it-away-from-the-cornerback catches for a 72-yard touchdown catch, it was the likes of Bowman, Cox, Collins and Toston who are making Gundy's statement come true.

Cox, the true freshman from Waco, Texas, did what no Cowboy has done since Barry Sanders took the season-opening kickoff back for a touchdown since 1987 (Sanders also returned a kickoff for a TD in 1988 but that was after Miami (Ohio) had driven for a field goal to start the game). Cox took Saturday night's opening kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown to give the Cowboys a 7-0 lead just 19 seconds into the game. Cox also had three punt returns for 72 yards, including a 41-yarder midway through the second quarter.

"We have more playmakers this year than what we had last year," Gundy said. "We have more guys that touch the football that have a chance to make somebody miss, and get extra yards. And then we have more speed on defense. We still have a lot of work ahead of us but we're a different football team than we were."

Gundy said he was not surprised when Cox took brought the Boone Pickens Stadium crowd of 43,393 to their feet the first time he touched the football in a Cowboy uniform.

"Some guys are just cut different than others," Gundy said when asked about Cox's abilities. "I watched him play in a basketball game. I guess he played basketball for something to do, and he could do things in warmups that normal people couldn't do. When he got in the game he couldn't shoot the ball but he could sure run and jump and do things around the rim. I know you're wondering what that has to do with football. When you've been around football as long as I have you can just tell that some people are cut a little different than others. I had a pretty good idea he was that way."

But Cox wasn't the only one making big plays. Bowman had three catches for 47 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Bobby Reid; Collins was a disruptive force from his starting linebacker position and blocked a Missouri State punt early in the second half to lead to a short Cowboy touchdown drive; and Toston also was impressive in his Cowboy debut with a pair of touchdowns, including an impressive 33-yard catch and run on a swing pass from Reid.

"We were athletically a much better team (than Missouri State) and fortunately we went out and performed that way," Gundy said.

The Cowboys, who struggled to defeat Division I-AA Montana State 15-10 at Boone Pickens Stadium in last season's opener, had their way with the Bears. Cox's kickoff return for a touchdown and Bowman's TD reception put the Cowboys up 14-0 just four minutes into the game.

Oklahoma State would add 24 more points in the span of less than 11 minutes in the second quarter to take a 38-0 halftime lead (the most points it had scored in a single half since scoring 38 against SMU on Sept. 20, 2003).

Toston's 33-yard touchdown reception from Reid made it 21-0, Jason Ricks kicked a 53-yard field goal as the Cowboys took a 24-0 lead, fullback John Johnson caught a 3-yard scoring toss from Reid (31-0), and D'Juan Woods made the incredible catch and scoring run of Reid's pass with just eight seconds left in the first half as the Cowboys went to the locker room with a 38-0 halftime lead.

"Obviously we are very pleased with the effort of our team," Gundy said of his team's season-opening performance. "We were looking for playing a clean game. We wanted to limit the penalties. We wanted to take care of the football. We wanted guys on defense to chase the football and make big plays on both sides of the football. We wanted to set the bar high on special teams. We feel like we have some guys who have a chance to make some big plays on special teams. We had the game in control and we got to play a lot of players. It was good for us. It's a good day for us.

Collins blocked the punt after Missouri State's opening series of the second half, and the Cowboys took over on the Bears' 8-yard line. Toston scored the second touchdown of his Cowboy career on an 8-yard run on the very next play to make it 45-0.

Julius Crosslin added a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter for another Cowboy score.

Missouri State's first points came on Nathan Stokes' 29-yard field goal in the third quarters.

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