Cowboys, Hunter Roll In Opener

STILLWATER - Oklahoma State fans had been waiting nearly nine months - since Dana Holgorsen had been hired as offensive coordinator - to see the new Cowboys' spread offense. They got what they wanted during a 10-minute span in the second quarter Saturday night as Brandon Weeden, Kendall Hunter and Company scored 21 unanswered points to propel the Cowboys to a 65-17 victory over Washington State.

The Oklahoma State offense used 17 plays to score three touchdowns after the Cougars had pulled with 17-10 in the second quarter. Weeden completed 7 of 8 passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns - both to wide receiver Justin Blackmon - in directing scoring drives of 71, 67 and 80 yards as the Cowboys pulled away to take a 38-10 halftime lead.

But as good as the 26-year-old Weeden was during that stretch as the Cowboys ran Holgorsen's offense to perfection, it was Hunter who turned the game back in Oklahoma State's favor. The senior running back ran for 120 yards on six carries, including a sensational 76-yarder behind the downfield blocking of Bo Bowling to the 1-yard line that set up the second of the three TDs.

Weeden's perfectly thrown ball to Blackmon for a 42-yard touchdown finished off a 4-play, 71-yard drive that got the momentum back in the Cowboys' favor. Washington State's fake field goal attempt came up a yard short a few minutes later, and Hunter's long run before being brought down at the 1-yard line set up Weeden's 1-yard TD pass to Blackmon, who outjumped Cougar cornerback Nolan Washington for the ball.

The Cowboys got the ball back on their 20 after forcing a Washington State punt with 1:19 remaining in the first half. Weeden completed 3 of 4 passes and Hunter had runs of 20 and 18 yards to get the ball to the Cougar 2-yard line with the final seconds clicking off the clock. Hunter fought his way into the end zone for his third touchdown of the first half as the clock expired.

Hunter looked like the player who earned All-America honors in 2008 and not the one who missed most of last season with a foot injury. As a matter of fact, he became the first Oklahoma State running back to run for more than 200 yards in a half since Barry Sanders rushed for 217 yards against Kansas in 1988. Hunter had 208 yards on just 18 carries in the first half, and finished with 257 rushing yards - the 12th best single-game rushing effort in school history - and four touchdowns despite playing just the first series of the second half.

"I was pleased with Kendall," said OSU head coach Mike Gundy. "You don't have to be in this business very long to see that he's excited about playing football."

Hunter said, "I was just happy to get back out there. You never know what you are missing out on until you get injured. I am bigger and stronger so I have been working really hard this summer to get back to where I was."

Weeden, making his first start at quarterback in nearly nine years (since he was a senior at Santa Fe High School in Edmond), struggled early before settling down. He completed just one of his first four passes in Oklahoma State's first three drives. But he finished by completing 22 of 30 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns.

"I didn't start out the way I wanted to, things were moving fast, but I just had to slow down and get the jitters out," said Weeden. "After that, overall I think I made a few mistakes, but it wasn't too bad."

OSU offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen said, "I thought Brandon managed the game well, and we took care of the game well. Obviously Kendall rushed well, and we had the deep threat with Blackmon. I am happy with those three guys, but we are still looking at another five or six guys to step up."

Blackmon had scored two touchdowns during his Cowboy playing career but doubled that on Saturday night. He caught eight passes for 125 yards, including touchdowns of 42, 1 and 24 yards, and then returned a blocked punt 7 yards for another score late in the game.

The Cowboy defense started six first-time starters and was inconsistent at times but forced two turnovers, including defensive end Ugo Chinasa's recovery of a fumble on the game's first play on the Washington State 15-yard line. Hunter scored the first of his four touchdowns on a 3-yard scamper behind fullback David Paulsen.

Oklahoma State returns to action against Troy next Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium.


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