The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

October 27, 2013

First start brings out Roland's best

AMES, Iowa — With Jeremy Smith on the sideline due to a lack of production, Oklahoma State may have found its running back going forward.

Going up against an Iowa State defense that had been giving up nearly 200 yards rushing, the Cowboys utilized the ground game with junior Desmond Roland — who had 26 carries for 219 yards and four touchdowns in his first career college start —  to propel the Pokes to a 58-27 victory at Jack Trice Stadium.

“The last time I started in high school, I rushed for 265 yards then got hurt for the remainder of the season and that’s what I was thinking about before this game  — I hadn’t started a game since high school,” said Roland, who had 147 yards rushing in the third quarter alone. “I just took that mindset and I’m just happy right now. I can’t explain it.”

Roland, who didn’t have a single run go for negative yards, was the only running back heavily used by OSU. Smith didn’t seen any action until late in the fourth with the game out of reach, while freshman Rennie Childs had two carries for a loss of a yard. It was the first time since 2010 the Cowboys had a 200-yard rusher and their first 100-yard rusher since the season opener against Mississippi State.

Coming into the game, Roland had just 147 yards on 36 rush attempts this season – for an average of 4 yards per carry. He hadn’t been used much the last two weeks, racking up just five carries for 12 yards against Kansas State and TCU. But OSU coach Mike Gundy said it was just time for change.

“We just felt that he deserved the start and then when he got rolling and was playing good, there was really no reason to take him out,” Gundy said. “I was interested in watching how he held up from a durability standpoint. He had 26 carries, and we haven’t had guys get that many in a quite a while. ... I’m hoping Desmond Roland proved he’s one of those guys that can gain momentum and his strength allows him to get better as the game goes on. Maybe that’s a good sign for our team.”

The rushing attack was needed on Saturday, too, with windy and chilly conditions making it difficult to do much through the air.

The Oklahoma State offense didn’t see much improvement in its pass attack, with Enid’s Clint Chelf getting his first starting nod since the season opener, when he was replaced by J.W. Walsh after just two drives. Chelf, who was not made available to the media, went 10 of 26 for 78 yards with one touchdown and an interception, which came in the red zone. However, he did have nine carries for 85 yards rushing.

“We’ve got to become a better throwing team. We were very average throwing the football today,” said Gundy, who acknowledged that Chelf would be the team’s starter for the foreseeable future.

While the OSU offense had several drives stall, to allow the Cyclones to keep in the game through the first three quarters, the Cowboy defense took it into their own hands.

Senior cornerback Justin Gilbert had a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter, and senior defensive end and former Haskell Haymaker Tyler Johnson recovered a fumble forced by senior linebacker Joe Mitchell and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown.

“That’s the highest achievement a defense can have. When you score on defense, percentage-wise you are going to win a lot of games,” said OSU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, whose squad finished with three takeaways. “Then to do it twice, is phenomenal. That’s one of those goals that has been up on the shelf and haven’t hit this year, so I’m happy we got that.”

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