STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State quarterback Taylor Cornelius’ stat line in his first career start was something to be proud of. Cowboys coach Mike Gundy thought it could have been even better.
Cornelius passed for 295 yards and five touchdowns to help Oklahoma State defeat Missouri State 58-17 on Thursday night. Gundy called the performance “average at best.”
“He was more tentative instead of cutting it loose,” Gundy said. “He needs to cut it loose. You make a mistake, you make a mistake.”
Cornelius had been Mason Rudolph’s backup for most of his career, but Rudolph now is with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cornelius, a fifth-year senior, seized his opportunity by completing 24 of 34 passes and rushing for 27 yards in the season opener for both teams.
Cornelius left some opportunities on the field, though. Gundy said Cornelius missed about six passes that he normally completes and said he was aiming instead of throwing. He threw an interception and would have thrown another if a Missouri State player hadn’t dropped it.
“I thought I could have done better, for sure,” Cornelius said. “Can’t throw an interception like that. The receivers played well and all the running backs did an unbelievable job.”
Gundy said he expected some rough moments from Cornelius because he was new to the stage.
“I told you guys everybody is going to have to be patient with Taylor,” he said. “I knew there would be times he would miss some throws. This happened with Mason.”
Jalen McCleskey caught two touchdown passes and ran for a score, Justice Hill ran for 122 yards and a touchdown and LD Brown added 115 yards and a score for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys gained 732 yards, the third-highest total in school history.
“We’re used to playing hurry-up offenses, but we’re not used to playing great up-tempo offenses like that,” Missouri State coach Dave Steckel said. “You’ve got to credit Oklahoma State. They’ve got a great offense, and that’s why they are respected as much as they are.”
The Bears struggled early on defense, and things got worse when linebacker Angelo Garbutt was ejected late in the first quarter for a helmet-to-helmet hit.
Oklahoma State led 17-0 at the end of the first quarter and outgained the Bears 280 yards to 9 in the period. Hill scored on a 3-yard touchdown run on Oklahoma State’s opening possession. Later in the first quarter, he took off for a 93-yard run before being stopped at the Missouri State 2-yard line. It was the fourth-longest run in Oklahoma State history, and it pushed him into 10th place on Oklahoma State’s career rushing list.
Peyton Huslig passed for 150 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 109 yards for Missouri State.
Hill barely got caught on his 93-yard run.
“I was just running, something I have done forever,” he said. “I saw a crease and just hit it. Just kept running. It was just an (isolation) play. It was just to get us out of the end zone. I just saw a crease and hit it. I thought I had it.”
Hill passed Keith Toston on the school’s career rushing list. Hill now has 2,731 yards. Toston ran for 2,725 yards from 2006-09.
MORE THAN HILL
It was a great day for Oklahoma State’s running backs overall. The Cowboys ran for 436 yards, the eighth-best total in school history.
Brown had a 77-yard touchdown run to help him claim his first 100-yard game. Backup quarterback Keondre Wudtee ran for a career-best 47 yards, Chuba Hubbard had three catches for 65 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown reception, and ran for 42 yards.
Oklahoma State’s defense got off to a solid start under new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. The Cowboys gave up just 260 total yards — 150 passing and 110 rushing. The Cowboys got four sacks and two fumble recoveries out of their new attacking defense.
Missouri State: The Bears weren’t expected to be competitive in this game — they were coming off a 3-8 season and were picked to finish ninth in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, a 10-team Football Championship Subdivision league. They were clearly overmatched, though they played better after the first quarter.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys simply overpowered the Bears. They ran on 55 of their 92 plays, and most of their passes were short, high-percentage throws. It’s still unclear if Oklahoma State can throw the ball deep down the field effectively.
Missouri State: The Bears host Lincoln University (Mo.) on Thursday.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys host South Alabama on Saturday.