STILLWATER, OKLA. Tatum Bell, Oklahoma State's top running back, couldn't play against Kansas University Saturday because of a sprained ankle suffered in a loss last week against Texas.
Seymore Shaw, the Cowboys' backup running back, couldn't play against the Jayhawks because of a quad strain suffered last week against the Longhorns.
Vernand Morency, OSU's third-string running back, could play against KU, though, and rushed 25 times for career highs of 269 yards and three touchdowns in the Cowboys' 44-21 victory. The 269 yards were the ninth-most in OSU history.
"We needed him," OSU coach Les Miles said. "We turned to him and said, 'OK, we need you to play,' and he did. It's a mark of a good football team where you can turn to guys and put them in the fray and count on them to make big plays, and he did."
Morency, who entered with 363 yards on 63 carries, had many big plays, including 11 rushes of more than 10 yards. Six of those came in the third quarter, when he rushed for 170 yards and two scores on 12 carries.
"He's a good athlete," KU linebacker Gabe Toomey said. "He's got good vision, good speed, and he hits the hole hard. That's what makes a good back."
The Jayhawks had closed within three points three minutes into the third period, but Morency's touchdowns, along with a short scoring run by fullback Shawn Willis, turned the game into a rout.
Oklahoma State's defense also excelled in the third quarter, holding the Jayhawks to just 49 yards and two first downs on 17 plays in the third period.
The Cowboys also forced an interception by Ricky Coxeff, who picked off Adam Barmann at KU's 32-yard line.
"We just wanted to come out and make a statement," OSU defensive end Greg Richmond said. "We wanted to show people we could play a full game. We stepped up in the second half and made a bunch of big plays."
After 39-point loss to the Longhorns, the Cowboys wanted a victory on Senior Day as a way to bounce back and gain momentum for their regular-season finale Nov. 22 against Baylor in Waco, Texas.
"We needed this, and we need to continue to finish strong," cornerback Thomas Wright said. "Going into the last game with an 8-3 record rarely happens at Oklahoma State. It feels good not to be at the bottom any more."