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Sunday, October 5, 2003
Oklahoma State uses breakout performances from reserves in win


STILLWATER, Okla. -- Rashaun Woods started the game on the sidelines and Tatum Bell stayed there for most of the night.

Even without much help from the Big 12's leading receiver and rusher, Oklahoma State rolled over winless Louisiana-Lafayette 56-3 Saturday night thanks to breakout performances from a couple of reserves.

Darrent Williams returned two punts for touchdowns and Vernand Morency rushed for 189 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Cowboys (4-1) quickly turn a close game into a rout.

"Somebody gives the opportunity to somebody else and he makes the best of it," coach Les Miles said. "That's the way a good football team shows."

Oklahoma State went undefeated in non-conference play for the first time since 1996, outscoring its last four opponents 198-36. It's the Cowboys' best start since 1997 when they won six straight en route to a 8-4 season.

In the week leading up to the game, Miles and his players insisted they weren't overlooking the hapless Ragin' Cajuns and gearing up for next week's showdown against a Kansas State team that beat them 44-9 last season.

It sure seemed that way at the start of Saturday's game.

At the end of the first quarter, Oklahoma State was trailing 3-0, the Cowboys barely had more offensive yards (33) than penalty yards (32) and Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Eric Rekieta had completed his first 10 passes for 108 yards.

But the good times didn't last long for the Ragin' Cajuns (0-6) as the Cowboys ran off 28 straight points in the second quarter.

Morency scored on touchdown runs of 1 and 68 yards, D'Juan Woods caught an 18-yard touchdown pass and Williams returned a punt 78 yards to all but seal the win.

Williams brought back another punt for a score in the third quarter, sprinting 59 yards down the right sideline to give Oklahoma State a 35-3 lead.

"We had some opportunities in the first quarter to maybe get some things going our way," said Louisiana-Lafayette coach Rickey Bustle, "but we didn't cash in on it. We gave up too many big plays."

Most of those big plays came from a couple of guys who usually aren't on Oklahoma State's short list of stars.

Morency, a 5-foot-10, 215-pound sophomore, got to play only after Bell was benched late in the first quarter for the fumble that led to the Ragin' Cajun field goal.

Bell, who's rushed for 504 yards and seven TDs on 83 carries this season, didn't get back onto the field after the turnover.

That simply created a long-awaited opportunity for Morency, who arrived in Stillwater following four years in the Colorado Rockies' minor league system. He had only 269 yards rushing and three touchdowns as a backup to Bell and junior Seymore Shaw over the past two seasons

"At times, you get frustrated and down," said Morency, who also had been in Miles' doghouse after being charged with possession of stolen property last spring. "I can't say I've been through worse things. But I never doubted myself. I was just hungry."

Meanwhile, Williams came into the game with only 80 yards on seven punt returns, mostly serving as the backup to senior Gabe Lindsay this season.

Williams' two returns for touchdowns set what's believed to be a school record -- Oklahoma State's records only go back to 1959.

"I know that I can take any one of them to the house now," Williams said. "I feel like if I get past the first wave, it's pretty much you and the punter and our coach says you won't be back there if you can't beat the punter."

A Woods caught an 18-yard touchdown pass in the win, but it was redshirt freshman D'Juan instead of his older brother, Rashaun.

Rashaun Woods didn't start because of a minor violation of team rules -- coaches wouldn't elaborate -- two weeks after setting a Division I-A record with seven TDs against Southern Methodist. Woods didn't have to do much when he finally got into the game: he finished with two catches for 37 yards, his lowest single-game production since his freshman year.

Now Oklahoma State can turn its attention to No. 22 Kansas State, which comes to Stillwater next week on the heels of a 24-20 loss at No. 11 Texas.

"We've been trying not to think about it," Williams said, "but in all our conversations, all we've been talking about is K-State."