MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

OSU

November 10, 2013

Peterson’s pick sparks Pokes

Gilbert’s opening kickoff return first blow in rout of KU

STILLWATER — With Barry Sanders in attendance, the 15th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys kicked off Saturday’s blowout in the most fitting of ways — a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Justin Gilbert on the opening kick.

It was a nice nod to the Heisman Trophy winner, who returned the season opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in 1988. For Gilbert it was his sixth career kickoff-return for a touchdown — which leads all active FBS players and is one shy of the FBS career record.

“There’s no better way to start a game, especially with Barry Sanders in the building. It was good,” Gilbert said.

And with Gilbert’s return, the rout was on for the Cowboys. Oklahoma State rolled past Kansas, 42-6, to improve to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in Big 12 Conference play.

OSU got a second spark not shortly after with Wagoner sophomore cornerback Kevin Peterson getting his first interception as a Cowboy.

Peterson came up with Oklahoma State’s lone takeaway in the contest, intercepting KU quarterback Jake Heaps and returning it 38 yards. The field position set up by Peterson, who missed last week’s game with an injury, gave OSU a short field early in the first quarter and led to the offense’s first score seven plays later — a 3-yard touchdown run by Desmond Roland.

After that, Oklahoma State turned it over to the offense to control the pace the rest of the way.

However, Kansas made it difficult for the Cowboys to utilize the running game — something OSU had seen vast improvement in over the past few games. The Jayhawks loaded the box and dared the Cowboys to go to the air.

The Cowboy offense played without its top target in the passing game for a large portion of the game, however. Wide receiver Josh Stewart was injured early in the contest after fielding a punt and was taken to the locker room.

Still, Oklahoma State racked up 274 yards passing with senior Tracy Moore and seldom-used sophomore David Glidden hauling in six catches each.

“I think our guys did a great job stepping in for him. If one guy goes down, one guy has got to step up, and that’s college football,” first-year offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. “Injuries are going to happen, and it’s about how you respond to that. Adversity brings some opportunity.”

Moore was quarterback Clint Chelf’s top target in the red zone. Moore finished with 77 yards and two touchdown passes. Chelf, who Gundy has made off limits to the media for the remainder of the season, had another touchdown toss to Roland and finished with 265 yards passing on 19 of 37 passing — and most importantly, no interceptions.

With the game in hand, J.W. Walsh got the opportunity to play much of the fourth quarter in relief of Chelf. He led OSU to a scoring drive midway through the final period — set up by a pair of pass interference calls — that was capped with a 15-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Smith.

Saturday’s contest was the last easy game on Oklahoma State’s schedule. The Cowboys will face the top three competitors in the Big 12 Conference race, starting with a trip to Austin, Texas, to face the Texas Longhorns next Saturday before closing with home games against Baylor and Oklahoma.

“We’ve got our hands full with the next one. We have to really practice well, have a good game plan and get the guys fresh and ready to go,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “We just have to get ready for the next game.”

Jason Elmquist is the sports editor for the Stillwater NewsPress.

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