Oklahoma State, Rolan rush past Iowa State

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

AMES, Iowa -- Desmond Roland made the most of the opportunity of his college career.
Long awaiting his turn as Oklahoma State's second-string running back, Roland got the starting nod Saturday and responded by rushing for a career-high 219 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries, leading the 19th-ranked Cowboys to a 58-27 victory at Iowa State.
On a windy day that saw inconsistent quarterback play on both sides, Roland was just the spark Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) needed after it had struggled rushing since the start of Big 12 play. As Clint Chelf -- who started over J.W. Walsh -- completed just 10 of 26 passes for 78 yards with a touchdown and an interception, Roland kept the chains moving and more than doubled his season rushing total. He entered the day with 147 yards on 36 carries.
"We felt he deserved the start this week, and when he got rolling and playing well, there was no reason to take him out," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. "I was interested in watching to see about how his durability held up. He had 26 carries and we haven't had that many carries in quite a while.
"I'm hoping Roland can do that and get stronger throughout the game."
Roland was at his best in the third quarter, when he ran for 147 of his yards. That included a hightlight-reel 58-yard scamper midway through the third quarter, when he started left and broke four tackles in the process of weaving back to the right sideline and eventually into the end zone to extend the Cowboys' lead to 38-20.
"I have been waiting on this opportunity for a long time now," Roland said. "Once coach told me I would be starting, I was thankful and took advantage of it. ... As long as I trust what is called, we are going to show our talent on the field."
Entering the day 96th nationally with 136.5 rushing yards per game, including just 97.0 yards in its past three contests, Oklahoma State ran for 342 yards on 47 attempts, which left Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads looking inward for answers.
"We obviously did a very poor job of executing," Rhoads said. "They ran for 342 yards. Whoever was carrying it was impressive."
Oklahoma State jumped out quickly and never trailed in the game. After a three-and-out by the Cyclones to open the game, the Cowboys marched 58 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 2-yard scoring run by Roland. Three snaps later, OSU cornerback Justin Gilbert returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown after he undercut a sideline route, giving the Cowboys a 14-0 lead at the 10:20 mark.
After four drives apiece, Iowa State (1-6, 0-4) had minus-1 yard of total offense, and Oklahoma State had a 21-0 lead when Chelf found Charlie Moore on an 8-yard touchdown pass.
ISU hung around and trailed just 28-20 at halftime, thanks to go-to receiver Quenton Bundrage and a reinvigorated rushing attack. Bundrage hauled in touchdown receptions of 22 and 20 yards in the first half, and the Cyclones amassed 100 rushing yards on 16 carries in the second quarter after initially being stymied.
The Iowa State rally could only last so long against a superior foe, though, as Oklahoma State scored 24 straight points after halftime. Cowboys defensive end Tyler Johnson returned an Ernst Brun fumble 54 yards for a touchdown to extend his team's lead to 45-20 with just more than four minutes left in the quarter.
Roland added a 3-yard scoring run for a 52-20 lead early in the fourth.
"Our job is to stop them, so I'll put all the blame on us," Iowa State linebacker Jeremiah George said of the defense's struggles. "I have nothing but respect for those guys, but our job as defenders is to be correct spots, have the correct gap and make the tackle when presented the chance, and we didn't do that enough."
Iowa State played without starting running back Aaron Wimberly, who sat out with a hamstring injury after battling neck and back injuries recently. The Cyclones were also without starting quarterback Sam Richardson for much of the game, as he left midway through the second quarter with back and neck tightness after taking a hard hit on a scramble.
Rhoads expects both Wimberly and Richardson to play next week, but without them, Iowa State struggled to move the ball consistently, going 4-for-20 on third-down conversions.
Richardson completed 6-for-15 for 95 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Backup Grant Rohach was 12-for-23 for 97 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Now on a four-game losing streak, Iowa State was also hurt by three turnovers and 10 penalties.
"We don't believe in doubt creeping into our minds," Rhoads said. "We believe in hard work and execution."
Walsh didn't play until late in the fourth quarter, misfiring on his only pass attempt. The Cowboys' quarterback play mattered little on this day, though, as they compiled a season-high in rushing yards.
With the win, the Cowboys became bowl eligible and stayed one game back in the loss column of the Big 12 leaders.
'We've come a long way as a program," Gundy said. "People don't talk about winning six games and guaranteeing yourself of going to a bowl anymore. I hadn't heard that all week in the locker room. It's always great to be bowl eligible."
NOTES: Not typically known as a running threat, Oklahoma State's Chelf ran for 85 yards on nine carries. ...The Cowboys had 13 tackles for loss and were led by linebacker Ryan Simmons, who had a team-high 11 tackles. ... Despite being mired in one of the school's worst seasons in recent memory, Iowa State sold out Jack Trice Stadium for the third time this season. ... Iowa State running back DeVondrick Nealy had his first career rushing touchdown, leaping over the pylon on an 11-yard run in the second quarter.

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