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Oklahoma State starts fast, routs Kansas

The SportsXchange

STILLWATER, Okla. -- The Oklahoma State Cowboys took the fast route to rev up a rout of the Kansas Jayhawks.

Thirteen seconds fast.

That's all it took for Justin Gilbert to race 100 yards with the opening kickoff for a touchdown and set in motion a 42-6 Cowboys romp over the Jayhawks on Saturday before 58,476 at Boone Pickens Stadium.

"Everybody was coming up to me saying, 'Hey, we've got to take this back! We've got to take this back!'" Gilbert said. "I didn't say anything, I was just shaking my head like, 'OK, we're going to do it.' Those guys up front blocked for me well ... and I was able to just hit it."

From there, No. 15-ranked OSU grew its lead to 28-0 by the half on its way to improving to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the Big 12.

For the Jayhawks, it was a disheartening start to the latest in a extensive string of conference losses -- six straight this season and the program's 27th consecutive overall dating back to 2010, the longest active league losing streak among FBS teams.

"It hurts a little bit," Kansas coach Charlie Weis said of Gilbert's return. "We've been a little slow in the offensive area with scoring points this year, so when you're playing the game, you want to keep the score within a certain range.

"When we started the game off like that, it was a little deflating. It's still just one play, but can you pick a worse way to start a game?"

Kansas used two quarterbacks, Jake Heaps and Montell Cozart. The Jayhawks tried different approaches, going heavy pass and heavy rush on some series. Still, they struggled to produce yards or points, falling to 2-7 overall.

The game swung for both sides immediately, when Gilbert took Kansas kicker Ron Doherty's opening boot at the goal line, headed for the left sideline and raced to the end zone, avoiding only one minor detour along the way.

It was Gilbert's sixth career kickoff return for a touchdown, the most among active players. It came, fittingly, with Barry Sanders in attendance for a 25-year celebration of his 1988 Heisman Trophy year -- which Sanders started with a season-opening kickoff return for a score.

The Cowboys boosted their lead to 14-0 midway through the first quarter on a 3-yard touchdown by running back Desmond Roland. Cornerback Kevin Peterson set up that score, returning an interception of Heaps 38 yards to the Jayhawks 34.

Kansas missed an opportunity to get on the board in the second quarter, wasting its longest offensive play of the season -- a 50-yard run on a reverse by running back Tony Pierson to the OSU 15. Three plays netted no yards and Doherty clanked a 32-yard field goal try off the left upright.

The Cowboys scored twice in the final 10 minutes of the half, with Roland hauling in a 19-yard pass from quarterback Clint Chelf to boost the lead to 21-0, before Chelf hit wide receiver Tracy Moore for a 4-yard scoring pass with just 15 seconds remaining. Chelf and Moore connected for another touchdown in the fourth quarter, before running back Jeremy Smith closed the scoring late with a touchdown run.

Chelf finished 19-of-37 passing for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Moore caught six throws for 77 yards and two scores, while inside receiver David Glidden had six receptions for 73 yards.

Kansas finally scored on a 40-yard field goal by Doherty, who added a 29-yarder in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys, however, were able to hold the Jayhawks out of the end zone, limiting the KU offense to 316 total yards and a combined 6-of-23 third- and fourth-down conversions.

"We wanted to keep them off the scoreboard, but when you make an offense settle for three instead of getting seven, that's much better," said OSU safety Lyndell Johnson. "I feel like we did a good job of that. We didn't get the amount of turnovers we wanted, but overall I feel like we did well."

The Jayhawks left with little to feel good about Saturday.

"The key is, when you get knocked down you have to keep getting back up, no matter how many times you get knocked down," said KU nickel back Cassius Sendish. "Until you get knocked out -- and I don't ever see us getting knocked out as a team, or a unit, or a defense or a secondary, I don't see it happening -- we just have to keep getting up and keep fighting."

NOTES: In honor of the 25th anniversary of his Heisman Trophy season, Barry Sanders and the 1988 Oklahoma State team were recognized at halftime. Some 60 former players from that season showed up in support of Sanders, who won the Cowboys' only Heisman that year with what many still consider the greatest single-season in college football history. ... With its 27th straight conference loss, Kansas moved closer to the longest league losing streak of the BCS era. During that span, only Duke (30, 1999-2003) and Baylor (29, 1998-2001) have lost more consecutive conference games. ... Josh Stewart, OSU's leading receiver, left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury. Stewart suffered the injury on a punt return and was taken to the locker room for X-rays, which proved negative. He did not return.
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