Cowboys Get Back On Winning Track

STILLWATER - Oklahoma State got the taste of victory back Saturday night with a 41-24 victory over Rice, but the 16th-ranked Cowboys didn't provide any answers about their offensive struggles early in the season despite the Owls being ranked dead last entering the game (120th out of 120 teams) in scoring defense and passing defense.

Sure, the Cowboys put 41 points on the scoreboard to improve to 2-1 entering next Saturday night's game against Grambling State at Boone Pickens Stadium but they still have some questions.

"I'm not frustrated but we still have to play better," head coach Mike Gundy said of his Cowboys. "We've got to find a way to get more big plays.

"On the first drive (10 plays, 60 yards that resulted in Zac Robinson's 23-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant) we went down and got some big plays. Then we had another shot there, and we overthrew Dez coming across the field the second time we had the ball," Gundy added.

"We just have to keep pushing forward. We still have some guards that don't have a lot of experience that we are working with. The guys are playing hard."

With running back Kendall Hunter not suited up because of a foot injury, Dez Bryant proved once again that he is a big-time playmaker. The junior receiver accounted for nearly 40 percent of the Cowboys offense with nine catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game with what Gundy said was either a strained hamstring or calf.

Quarterback Zac Robinson completed 14 of 20 passes for 227 yards and the two TD passes to Bryant, and ran for 19 yards on five carries. The second TD pass to Bryant - a 10-yarder in the second quarter to give OSU a 21-3 lead - was the 56th scoring pass of his career, moving him into first place ahead of former Cowboy Josh Fields.

"He had a couple of passes that I thought he could have thrown better," Gundy said of Robinson. "The one (pass) that sticks in your mind is the deep one there early in the first quarter. If he hits Dez there, he probably scores.

"I thought he ran the ball and played better. He took care of it. Overall, I thought it was the best he had played (this season)."

The Cowboy offense spent a big part of Saturday night on the sideline watching as the Owls ran 83 plays while OSU had just 56.

"That's a little unusual," Gundy said, "but I guess when you have returns, fumbles and put the ball on the ground on a kickoff return you don't get that many plays.

"I thought our players competed hard; their effort was great without watching the tape. We still have a few mistakes."

One of the game's biggest plays was made by Donald Booker early in the second period. The Cowboy linebacker scooped up a fumbled snap on a Rice field goal attempt and raced 51 yards for a touchdown.

That play proved to be significiant. Instead of Rice making the 47-yard field goal to pull within 7-3, the Cowboys weent up 14-0.

OSU expanded its lead to 28-3 early in the third quarter when Robinson scored on a 1-yard run. But Cowboy turnovers allowed the Owls to stay in the game, pulling within 35-24 early in the fourth quarter before OSU's Dan Bailey kicked two field goals to sew up the win.

"It was good to get back on track. Overall, I thought we played better," Gundy said.

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