Oklahoma State’s football team jumped to a 20-0 lead, then held on in the final minutes to beat Missouri State 23-16 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater in the season opener for both teams.
OSU was playing without quarterback Spencer Sanders, who is sitting out the game due to COVID-19 protocols, with Shane Illingworth starting in his place.
Missouri State had the ball for 11 minutes more than OSU, and were only outgained by the Cowboys 369-336, while holding OSU to just 54 yards rushing.
Missouri State got the ball to start the game and punted after three downs.
OSU then took the ball and marched 72 yards in nine plays, with Illingworth passing to Tay Martin for a 5-yard touchdown.
The extra point was no good and it was 6-0 Cowboys with 9:38 to play in the first quarter.
Illingworth was 22-for-40 passing for 315 yards.
The Bears were forced to punt, then OSU went three-and-out and punted as well.
Missouri State got a drive into OSU territory late in the first half, but Jose Pizano’s 51-yard field goal attempt was blocked and the Cowboys maintained a 6-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter, OSU drove 66 yards in nine plays, with Jaylen Warren scoring on a one-yard touchdown run to put the Cowboys up 13-0 with 11:38 to play in the second quarter.
On Missouri State’s first play of their next possession, quarterback Jason Shelley fumbled and Devin Harper recovered for OSU at the Bears’ 25-yard line.
It took OSU just two plays to score, with L.D. Brown running around the left side for an 11-yard touchdown to make it 20-0 Cowboys with 10:57 to play in the second quarter.
Missouri State had to punt after just three downs on the next possession, and OSU turned the ball over on downs on theirs.
The Bears then got their first points of the game as they got inside the Cowboys’ 5-yard line, but had to settle for a 30-yard field goal from Pizano to make it 20-3 OSU with 1:52 to play in the first half.
OSU tried to get some points before halftime, but Illingworth was intercepted by Montre Braswell at the Bears’ 8-yard line with just 48 seconds left in the first half.
Both teams had to punt on their first possession of the second half.
OSU then turned the ball over as Dezmon Jackson fumbled and Tyler Wiltz recovered for MSU at the OSU 43-yard line.
That set up a 48-yard field goal by Pizano to cut the Cowboys’ lead to 20-6 with 7:27 to play in the third quarter.
OSU went three downs and punted and Missouri State edged closer by getting a 33-yard field field from Pizano to cut the Cowboy lead to 20-9 with 1:15 to play in the third quarter.
The Cowboys once again had to punt after just three downs, but the Bears muffed the punt and Korie Black recovered for OSU at the MSU 11-yard line.
OSU appeared to get a touchdown pass from Illingworth to Tay Martin, but on a replay review it was determined Martin didn’t maintain control of the ball as he hit the turf and it was ruled incomplete.
Alex Hale kicked a 35-yard field goal to make it 23-9 Cowboys with 13:05 to play in the fourth quarter.
Both teams struggled offensively after that, with both teams exchanging punts twice.
The Bears then marched 84 yards in 11 plays, with Jason Shelley passing to Tyrone Scott for an 8-yard touchdown to cut OSU’s lead to 23-16 with 3:06 to play.
Shelley was 23-for-44 for 235 yards passing and the touchdown.
On the ensuing kickoff, L.D. Brown bobbled and muffed the ball, with MSU’s Myron Mason recovering at the OSU 16-yard line.
Missouri State couldn’t convert, however, and Shelley’s pass on 4th and 14 fell incomplete.
OSU went three and out, though, throwing two incomplete passes and punting the ball back to Missouri State with 1:34 to play at their own 30-yard line.
The Bears’ hopes finally ended when Devin Harper sacked Shelley on 4th and 19 from the OSU 35-yard line with under 10 seconds to play.
OSU improved to 15-2 under Mike Gundy in season openers and have won 26 straight home openers.
The Cowboys will host Tulsa next Saturday at 11:00 am.