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Carson finds role in return

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Chris Carson

OSU running back Chris Carson returned from an injury with three touchdowns Saturday in the Cowboys' 44-20 win against Kansas.

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Chris Carson had to prove he still had it.

Oklahoma State’s 44-20 win against Kansas on Saturday in Lawrence, Kansas, was Carson’s first game since Week 2 against Central Michigan. Carson was sidelined for five weeks because of a left hand injury.

Carson was the starting running back before his injury. During his absence, freshman Justice Hill took command of the backfield.

Hill’s 162-yard performance was his third game to reach the century mark. He accomplished the task on 22 carries. Carson was handed the ball eight times to relieve Hill, and was the Cowboys' second leading rusher with 59 yards.

“If Chris had the 22 carries, could he have had the numbers? For sure,” OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. “When a guy’s been out for a significant period of time, like Chris has, you gotta make sure you ease right back into it.

“I think you’ll see a lot of successful offenses with two good tailbacks. You play them both. That’s what you do. Unfortunately, we can only snap it with one football, but there’s enough carries to go around.”

It was obvious Hill was the No. 1 running back Saturday. Carson even mentioned Hill as the “lead man” after the game. He was on the sidelines to watch Hill take over the back field. The sight made Carson eager, but not because he thought his job was slipping away.

“I see the offensive line doing great, and Justice Hill in the backfield doing unbelievable things,” Carson said. “It was just something I wanted to be a part of and contribute as much as I can.”

OSU running backs tallied four touchdowns against KU. Carson had half of them. He turned his eight carries into 59 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a 15-yard touchdown from Mason Rudolph in the third quarter.

Carson’s first touchdown put OSU on the board in the opening quarter. His second rushing touchdown was his most impressive. When the hole on the right side closed, Carson cut back and found an opening on the other side for a 16-yard touchdown.

Three touchdowns wasn’t enough for Carson. Moments before his third touchdown, Carson leaped over a KU defender during a 14-yard run. Twitter was immediately filled with tweets saying “He’s back.”

“I just wanted to see if I still had it,” Carson said. “Last year when I did it I was probably 15 pounds lighter. I just wanted to see if I still had it in me. It was kind of nerve-racking when I jumped up like that.”

Cowboy fans took notice of Carson last season when he hurdled a Central Arkansas defender. The play made his presence known as a transfer from Butler Community College. It’s become a way for him to remind fans he’s on the depth chart.

Carson is back. His senior year resumed Saturday. After missing four games, his chances are numbered.

“You can’t take this for granted,” Carson said. “This is my last five, six games that I have. I just wanna make the most out of each carry, each play I have out there.”

sports@ocolly.com

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