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Hometown Cowboys win season opener 16-7

Saturday, September 19, 2020 was a late start date for the Oklahoma State Cowboy football season. COVID-19 had changed the landscape of everything in our community.  Unless you came in together, everyone in the stands and press box at Boone Pickens Stadium were six feet apart, masks on.

That did not damper the spirits of two Minco Alums and one Tuttle Alum playing for the Cowboys this year. Hunter Anthony of Tuttle (redshirt sophomore) was listed as the starter at right tackle, and Ry Schneider of Minco (redshirt senior) started at Center.  Ry’s brother, Rody Schneider (freshman, redshirted) put a Cowboy uniform on for the first time.

The air was crisp, perfect, for the 11 AM kick as the Cowboys battled the Tulsa Hurricane. The Cowboys were expected to do well this season with a returning, powerful and balanced offense. Many national sports figures have them appearing in the final four, but no reasonable Cowboy fan will take this crazy season for granted, and after the game they shouldn’t.

The Pokes kicked off first, so Tuttle and Minco folks had to wait to see their starters. They did not have to wait long. The Cowboy defense held, so Ry and Hunter reported for duty. A time eating drive, 6:36, the Pokes reach the Tulsa 10 and new kicker, Alex Hale, kicked a 27-yard field goal to take the 3-0 lead.

A bad snap on OSU’s second possession gave Tulsa the ball on the OSU 38. That fumble sent QB Spencer Sanders to the locker room limping and did not return with a lower extremity injury, a huge blow for the Heisman hopeful. The Hurricane could not score with the OSU gift. The first quarter ended with OSU up 3-0.

Tulsa’s QB Zach Smith hit Keylon Stokes for a 41-yard pass and two plays later, Smith hits Josh Johnson for a 16-yard TD pass. Tulsa led the Cowboys 7-3. The shocked OSU faithful saw the Pokes trailing as first half ended.

Although not unusual for the first game to favor defenses, OSU’s high-powered offense looked anemic. Undoubtedly with the loss of Sanders and with the OSU staff limiting Tylan Wallace in the first half hurt the Pokes.

No scoring occurred in the 3rd quarter. OSU’s JUCO back up QB Ethan Bullock threw a pick and he was done. He produced almost no offense. Gundy puts in true freshman QB Shane Illingworth. As if manna came from heaven, Shane gave the Cowboy fans what they needed, offense.

One play into the 4th quarter, after Illingworth led the offense down the field, Chuba Hubbard runs the final three yards and OSU had their first TD and led 10-7. Tulsa response was its best drive, making it to the OSU 3-yard line but missed a 26-yard field goal wide left.

Chuba Hubbard wills the OSU offense forward.   A questionable holding penalty on Minco’s Ry Schneider reverses a 50-yard TD run by LB Brown. The Pokes had to settle for a Hale 40-yard field goal and led 13-7.

With a final chance, Tulsa receives the kick and goes backward. A huge 4th and 24 sack by OSU wrestler Rodriquez at the Tulsa 2-yard line ended the game. Forced by Tulsa trying to extend the game, OSU kicks a 29-yard field goal and the final score was 16-7.

It’s rare to find a hero. Illingworth was that hero.  A four-star recruit from California, he missed some of practice due to COVID and was an unknown coming into Saturday’s game.  He’s not unknown now. Hopeful Sanders will return, but if not, the OSU fans will gladly let Illingworth fill those big shoes next week against West Virginia.

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