STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said he saw some of the improvement he was looking for after what he considered a shaky opener.
Spencer Sanders passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, and No. 11 Oklahoma State defeated Arizona State 34-17 on a rainy Saturday night.
Sanders passed for 268 yards and ran for 54, and Dominic Richardson ran for 131 yards and a touchdown and caught five passes for 44 yards for the Cowboys (2-0).
The Cowboys had issues in a 58-44 win over Central Michigan on Sept. 1, but overcame some of them on Saturday.
“So that (against Arizona State) was a better game for us overall as a team,” Gundy said. “We minimized missed assignments from the last game. So I told the the team and the coaches in the locker room that I was proud of them.”
Emory Jones passed for 223 yards and a touchdown and Xazavian Valladay rushed for 118 yards and a score for Arizona State (1-1). But Sun Devils coach Herm Edwards said offense wasn't effective enough the help the defense.
“They were competitive," he said of the defense. "They played as hard as they could play. They just eventually wore down. That’s the nature of the game. You can’t keep asking the defense to keep going out there over and over and over.”
In the second quarter, Oklahoma State's Brock Martin’s hit Valladay hard and forced a fumble, Tyler Lacy recovered and the Cowboys took over at the Arizona State 37. Oklahoma State took advantage, and Richardson’s 3-yard touchdown run gave the Cowboys a 7-3 lead.
Later in the quarter, Sanders kept on the option for a 6-yard touchdown run to put Oklahoma State up 14-3 with just under three minutes left before halftime. His score capped an 11-play, 96-yard drive. The Cowboys tacked on a field goal to lead 17-3 at the break.
Valladay's 1-yard touchdown run, which came shortly after a 73-yard reception by Giovanni Sanders, cut Oklahoma State's lead to 17-10.
After an Oklahoma State field goal, Jones connected with Elijhah Badger for a 21-yard touchdown that pulled Arizona State to 20-17 with 14:25 to play. The Cowboys responded with trickery as Sanders found Bryson Green wide open on a flea-flicker, and the 31-yard score put Oklahoma State in control for good.
“We have a chance to learn from this game,” Edwards said. “There’s a lot of football left, so hopefully we can continue to learn from the situation and close the team together.”
Arizona State: The Sun Devils struggled with their passing game, completing just 12 of 24 passes. Defensively, Arizona State allowed just 120 yards the previous week against Northern Arizona, but surrendered 465 yards on Saturday.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys gave up 546 yards in the opener against Central Michigan, but they bounced back and held the Sun Devils to 354 total yards.
There's room for the Cowboys to move up into the Top 10 after Texas A&M and Notre Dame lost on Saturday.
Valladay surpassed 4,000 career all-purpose yards on Saturday. The transfer from Wyoming entered the day with 3,987 career all-purpose yards and now has 4,105.
Valladay entered the week as the FBS’ career active rushing leader.
CLOSING IT OUT
Oklahoma State struggled to close out their opener against Central Michigan, but the Cowboys were much better in the fourth quarter against Arizona State.
The Cowboys possessed the ball for 10:33 in the fourth quarter, outgained the Sun Devils 156-70 in the period and most important, outscored Arizona State 14-7 in the final 15 minutes.
“Much, much better rushing the football and we’re much, much more physical in the second half, and our running backs broke some tackles in key third downs and situations to keep us going," Gundy said.
Arizona State hosts Eastern Michgan.
Oklahoma State hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: twitter.com/CliffBruntAP