OSU feeds off errors by Owls

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Friday, September 09, 2005

MIAMI GARDENS Playing on national TV for the first time, Florida Atlantic was hoping to be competitive with its second Big 12 team in less than a week.

Instead, it was Reality TV, and a healthy dose of it for the Owls, who were pushed around by Oklahoma State before the Cowboys rolled to a 23-3 victory Thursday in front of 16,421 at Dolphins Stadium.

After keeping it close against Kansas last week, FAU came into its game with Oklahoma Sate optimistic that it could pull an upset.

The Owls found out that all Big 12 teams are not created equal.

"We are on the path we have selected to get to the higher echelon of Division I, and we have to go through the battlefields of Kansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Louisville to get to where we need to go," FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said. "There will be casualties and bloodlettings, but we will get there faster than if we took the high paved road."

But FAU made the road rocky vs. Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys made the Owls pay for almost every mistake, scoring 17 points off turnovers.

"Special teams played like crap, the offense played like crap and the defense played awesome and gave us a great opportunity to win the game once again, and we were unable to get things done," said Owls senior quarterback Danny Embick, who had two of the fumbles and completed seven of 16 passes for 91 yards.

The most costly mistakes were in the kicking game.

After the Owls' defense forced the Cowboys to punt on OSU's first possession, FAU's Darrion Porter-Isom backed into returner Casey McGahee, causing a loose ball that was recovered by Cowboys senior linebacker Pagitte McGee at the FAU 20-yard line.

Four plays later, Oklahoma State kicker Bruce Redden, attempting his first college field goal, put the Cowboys up 3-0.

OSU went for an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff and caught FAU napping. The Cowboys recovered the ball and were in business again at the Owls' 48 against a defense that had just been on the field for more than nine minutes.

"That was tough on me and the defense as a whole," FAU senior cornerback Willie Hughley said. "We held them and did our thing. Then they kicked the onside kick, and we had to go out there again. It didn't kill our spirit, but it hurt us because we had just come off the field."

Oklahoma State easily moved to the FAU 21, where a 44-yard field goal gave the Cowboys a 6-0 lead.

An offsides penalty on FAU on fourth-and-short prolonged another Cowboys drive.

"I really hate to lose football games on special teams, turnovers and things I don't have any control over," sophomore defensive end Josh Pinnick said. "We had a lot of mistakes that cost us the game, but, defensively, I think it was the strongest defensive outing I've seen."

The offense was a different story. The only points the Owls (0-2) managed were on a 27-yard field goal by Daniel Kennard that cut OSU's lead to 6-3.

"We felt comfortable with our defense, except in the beginning, they took a couple of shots downfield," Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. "We were able to get to the quarterback and force pressure, though."

Especially in the second quarter, when Embick was stripped of the ball on third-and-long and OSU recovered at the FAU 5.

Three plays later, the Cowboys (2-0) had a 13-3 lead after a 1-yard run by sophomore tailback Julius Crosslin.

In the third quarter, Crosslin barreled in from the 2-yard line to give OSU a 20-3 lead.

A 28-yard field goal by Redden with 8:56 remaining put Oklahoma State up 23-3.