STILLWATER, Okla. — Saturday marked the end of spring practice for the Oklahoma State Cowboys with the team holding its annual spring game in front of an estimated 17,000 fans at Boone Pickens Stadium.
The Cowboys were split into two teams, Orange and Black, in an attempt to try to create the most realistic game experience possible as the team eyes the start of the 2021 season.
The teams played two 20-minute halves with a running clock and no official stats were taken, but they tried to keep the game as close to normal as possible with scoring and officiating.
Shane Illingworth led the Black team to a 27-19 win in a game that featured six field goals and four touchdowns between the two teams.
Oklahoma State starting quarterback Spencer Sanders had a solid day passing, completing 21 of 29 attempts for 169 yards while splitting reps with two other quarterbacks.
Illingworth scored the first touchdown of the day just before the end of the first half. The Black team had the ball at the Orange seven yard line, when the sophomore quarterback rolled to his right and found freshman receiver Jaden Bray in the corner of the end zone, who snagged the ball over sophomore cornerback Anthony Jimmerson.
Illingworth finished nine-of-14 through the air for 116 yards and a touchdown.
“I thought both of them were good,” OSU head coach Mike Gundy said. “We opened it up a little bit more at the end and allowed them to fling it a little bit. There were times we wanted to work on the running game but we feel like we have guys who can throw it down the field and we feel like we’ve got some guys who can run and catch it.”
Neither quarterback threw an interception in the game, which Gundy said is a positive sign. Illingworth said he plans to work on his speed during the offseason but admitted that his scrambling won’t ever be how he makes a name for himself.
“I’ve got to get a little faster, I’m gonna work on my speed,” Illingworth said. “I’ve been working on my progression. I’m probably gonna make my money in the pocket, I’m going to have to keep working on getting better at that.”
Bray had a big day in his first ever spring game as a Cowboy. He caught two touchdown passes including an eight-yard pass from Bullock that extended the Black team’s lead to 20-12 late midway through the second half.
The Orange team came back with a great drive of its own but was stopped in its tracks after redshirt freshman running back Zach Middleton fumbled inside Black’s territory.
Overall, Gundy was still impressed with what he saw out of the newcomer on Saturday.
“He really had a good spring and he showed it today with some physicality, he took quite a few hits …” Gundy said. “We’re excited about him as he develops.”
The Black team had a fumble as well, with the second one coming from senior tailback Jaylen Warren and was recovered by redshirt sophomore defensive end Nathan Latu.
The Black team responded immediately with a 65-yard touchdown throw and catch from Illingworth to sophomore receiver Brennan Presley.
Presley is expected to have a breakout season with the Pokes as they try to fill the void left by First Team All-American Tylan Wallace, who turned pro after last season.
Presley finished the 2020-21 season with six catches for 118 yards against Miami in the Cowboys’ bowl game.
His brother, Braylin Presley, committed to the Cowboys earlier in the week.
The sophomore from Bixby also scored on a handoff after making some moves to find space to the outside on a seven-yard run in the game’s final possession. Presley said that the team’s young receiving corps is ready to take on a bigger role this season.
“Football is all about making mistakes,” Presley said. “And not getting too down on yourself, being able to come back the next day. I’m really impressed with how quickly they’ve learned and adjusted to everything.”
All in all, Gundy called Saturday “a great day” for his team. Nobody was injured and the team was able to give some young players the snaps they need as they work to replace several key pieces from last season.
“It was a great day for us,” Gundy said. “The weather was perfect, the crowd was awesome and players competed, we were able to get a lot of action. I’m fairly sure that everyone played at least 15 snaps which was our goal, to get everybody in.”
The Cowboys’ season is set to start on Sept. 4 against Missouri State in Stillwater.