Cowboys Get Defensive!

STILLWATER – Dez Bryant was recruited by Texas A&M. Ugo Chinasa was recruited by Texas A&M. Both were standouts at their respective Texas high schools, and could have easily ended up play for the Aggies. But those two wore the orange and white of Oklahoma State on Saturday night and were difference makers in the 21st-ranked Cowboys 56-28 victory over the Aggies at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Bryant, the wide receiver from Lufkin, Texas, was sensational for the third time this season for the Cowboys, who improved to 5-0 for the first time since 2004. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound sophomore scored four touchdowns, including a 78-yard punt return in the first quarter to put his team ahead 21-0. He also had touchdown receptions of 29, 23 and 21 yards.

Chinasa, the defensive end from Richardson, Texas, had the best game of his collegiate career. The 6-6, 255-pound junior scored the Cowboys' first touchdown on a six-yard interception return and also had a 35-yard fumble return.

The Cowboys improve to 5-0 for the first time since 2004 with the win over the Aggies, who are now 2-3 in Mike Sherman's first year as head coach. They also avenge two heart-breaking losses to the Aggies the past two seasons, including a 34-33 overtime loss in 2006 and a 24-23 loss a year ago after leading 17-0.

"I was really, really proud of the defense and the way they played," OSU head coach Mike Gundy said. "One of the things I talked about in the locker room was that there has been so much talk go on outside of our building about the offense outscoring everybody. They wonder if the defense can hold up.

"In the first half, they scored two touchdowns for us and set us up on a couple of others. They not only kept us in the game but also kept the momentum from swinging in Texas A&M's favor. It was a great lift for them.

"Give a lot of credit to the defensive side of the ball for what they were able to accomplish in the first half."

Who would have thought that the Cowboys would win by 28 points despite Texas A&M having a more productive night offensively? The Aggies finished with 402 yards of total offense, one more than the Cowboys, who entered the game as the fourth-best offense in the nation (averaging more than 560 yards per game).

It was the play of the Cowboys defense led by Chinasa, Patrick Lavine, Andre Sexton and Jacob Lacey – all Texans who very easily could have been wearing the crimson and white of the Aggies instead of the orange and white of Oklahoma State – that led the Cowboy defense to its most impressive performance of the season.

The Cowboy defense forced five first-half turnovers – yes, five! - and Oklahoma led 28-7 at halftime, although the high-powered offense had produced just 146 total yards and one score.

Chinasa's six-yard interception return midway through the first quarter of a Jerrod Jackson pass that slipped through the hands of Jamie McCoy was just a sign of things to come.

OSU quarterback Zac Robinson connected with Bryant on the first of their three touchdowns on the Cowboys' next possession in the first quarter. The Cowboy defense then forced a three-and-out which led to Bryant's 78-yard punt return for a touchdown to make it 21-0 and there was still 1:59 left to play in the first quarter.

The game was all but over… but the Cowboy defense wasn't.

Derek Burton's hit forced Texas A&M's Cyrus Gray to fumble early in the second quarter and Cowboy cornerback Maurice Gray recovered. With the score 21-7, OSU defensive end Jeremiah Price pressured A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson into throwing a pass he probably shouldn't have, and Cowboy linebacker Patrick Lavine intercepted and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown.

"You have to give a lot of credit to Coach (Tim) Beckman and the defensive staff," said Gundy. "They've stayed the course. I think, in my opinion, in coaching, you decide what your scheme and what your plan is and you stay the course so the players can believe in you.

"You get them to play hard and bring in guys who fit the system. We haven't arrived on either side of the ball, and we will continue to get better."

Although the Cowboy defense did not create any turnovers in the second half, the OSU offense played much better. Robinson, who finished 10 of 13 passing for 186 yards and the three TD passes to Bryant, directed a seven-play, 62-yard scoring drive which culminated with the Cowboy quarterback throwing a 23-yard TD pass to Bryant to open the second half as the Cowboys went up 35-7.

Robinson, who rushed for a season-best 66 yards and two touchdowns, had a 6-yard scoring run to cap a five-play, 68-yard drive later in the third quarter. He then teamed with Bryant for his third touchdown reception of the game (and his ninth of the season). Robinson closed out the scoring with a 7-yard touchdown run in the game's final two minutes.

"It was a great win for Oklahoma State. We are very excited about where we are," Gundy said.

The Cowboys, now that they have avenged a pair of heart-breaking losses to the Aggies the past two seasons, will look to make a statement to the entire nation when they go on the road to face fourth-ranked Missouri next Saturday in Columbia, Mo.

"We're trying to do the best we can to keep everything on an even note and continue tow ork hard and go back to work tomorrow morning and get ready for Mizzou," Gundy added.

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