Toston's Cheerleading Proves Point

As the Oklahoma State offensive juggernaut took off in the second half of the come-from-behind 42-32 victory over Kansas, freshman running back Keith Toston was front and center, up and down the sidelines cheering on every play. Toston was even lining up even with the kickoff team before the kick encouraging them to run down the field as fast as they could to make a tackle.

That ploy may have helped trick some of the Jayhawks lined up near the OSU sideline on Bruce Redden's momentum seizing onside kick in the second half. The question begs why Toston, a hero if there was one in the Cowboys loss a week earlier just down the road in Manhattan to Kansas State, had gone from 100-yard rusher and touchdown scorer to cheerleader in one week.

In the first half of the game in sun splashed Memorial Stadium the Jayhawks didn't take the 14-0 lead at intermission, Toston gave it to them. The hard running freshman out of Angleton, Texas, lost the ball on a hit by James McClinton and it never hit the ground as Anthony Webb was as surprised as anybody that it landed in his hands. One play later KU quarterback Kerry Meier tossed a 33-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Herford and it was 7-0. Before the end of the first quarter Toston fumbled again at the Cowboy 38-yard line and Artist Wright fell on the ball. Early in the second quarter Meier finished the eight-play drive with a four-yard touchdown pass to former Sallisaw (Okla.) High School tight end Derek Fine.

Toston, who rushed for 108 yards against Kansas State, was done for the day with nine carries for 23 yards and two fumbles. He was finished playing, but instead of going to the bench and sulking or dropping his head and being non-communicative, Toston yelled louder than anyone outside his teammates had ever seen him since arriving in Stillwater. Freshmen can't do media interviews, but we heard Toston loud and clear.

Quarterback Bobby Reid, the other member of the Cowboys responsible for turnovers (an interception and a fumble), heard Toston and as a first half culprit he sympathized. Reid did not exit, instead in the second half he and the rest of the offense lifted off.

The Jayhawk radar still has to be searching for Reid, his passes, and his favorite target Adarius Bowman. Overall, Oklahoma State finished with 603 yards of offense, the best since 673 yards vs. Texas Tech in 2003. Of the 603 yards, 392 came in the second half. Reid was 23-of-35 for 411 yards and five touchdowns passing. Total offense for Reid climbed to 457 yards with his 46 yards rushing, including a 29-yard touchdown run that had to be seen to be fully appreciated.

Bowman had 13 receptions for 300 yards and four touchdowns. The 300 yards is an Oklahoma State and a Big 12 record. It was the 11th best single game yardage day ever by an NCAA Division I receiver. The touchdowns of 54, 25, 55, and 64 yards were all spectacular. The Reid and Bowman tandem was so fantastic ESPN had to find their Oklahoma State helmet because College Wrap Up Show co-host Reece Davis gave the pair a celebrated helmet sticker on the show Saturday night.

KU head coach Mark Mangino was ready to award Bowman something better.

"I have to give credit to the quarterback for getting him the ball," said Mangino. "Bowman made plays and we could barely contest him. We didn't go for the ball. He ended up with 300 yards today. He gets my vote for the Heisman."

There was Toston as the game clock evaporated out of the limelight because he lost the ball, but part of the win because he demonstrated and proved what head coach Mike Gundy has been saying about the closeness of this team and how he likes how they react to each other as a group. Despite not being able to do interviews, Toston did respond to one question off the record. Asked if he was relieved, Toston grinned and said he loves being a Cowboy.

"Did we start him in the second half?" Gundy asked about Toston. "There was some talk about it because he is a good young prospect. He comes from a strong high school football program and he understands what it takes. That is what I am talking about with team. The team part of this is more important than everything for the long run."

As opposed to the games at Houston and Kansas State, it was the offense that made crucial mistakes and the defense that kept the Cowboys in the game, but nobody was sticking out their chest as a unit after the game. During the game the defensive players encouraged the offense. In the end it was the offense that made it easy on the defense scoring almost at will to keep a safe advantage on the scoreboard. That camaraderie between units goes right back to the core of what is good about these Cowboys.

"I couldn't be with a better team right now," said Bowman. "In terms of relationships, we can just talk with each other, pick each other up, and we hung with each other today until we got it done."

"Instead of putting our head down we just kept going out there and making plays," said redshirt freshman safety and linebacker Andre Sexton. "That was good for us and good for the offense in it gave them opportunities to score."

Of course, spirit, camaraderie, love, understanding and all of that help to make good teams, but the bonus of Reid-to-Bowman isn't a bad combination to add with it.

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