Woodward, Okla. —
By Jason Elmquist
CNHI News Service
STILLWATER — The Oklahoma State defense did it again — and again, and again, and again, and again.
With the OSU offense unable to do much of anything in the second half of Saturday’s game against Kansas State, the Cowboy defense took it upon themselves to give their offensive counterparts every chance possible to get the win.
Glenn Spencer’s defense forced five second-half takeaways — two of which came inside Kansas State’s 25-yard line — to set up the offense and effectively cap a 33-29 victory.
“That’s just players making plays. ... We had some guys finish some great plays and it all started out by them playing hard and having the assignment right and the right technique to make those plays,” said Spencer, Oklahoma State’s first-year defensive coordinator. “It’s not like we didn’t try to get them in the first half, but sometimes they’re there and sometimes they’re not.”
Oklahoma State needed every last one of the takeaways with the offense unable to move the ball. Through the first 20 minutes of the second half, the Cowboy offense hadn’t even collected a first down — let alone a touchdown.
With the OSU defense setting them up for success on at least two occasions with the ball at K-State’s 22-yard line and 6-yard line on back-to-back drives, Oklahoma State’s offense managed a combined five yards. Instead, OSU settled for field goals from freshman kicker Ben Grogan — who overcame last week’s debacle in West Virginia where he missed two field goals to go 4 for 5 on field goal attempts.
“I think that showed some maturity on his part to bounce back like that and kick the ball the way he kicked today,” Cowboy quarterback J.W. Walsh said of the rookie kicker, who had his other kick blocked, due to poor blocking, and returned for a touchdown. “He was huge for us and a huge weapon. He was a big part of our win and I’m just really proud of him to bounce back like he did.”
The Cowboys (4-1, 1-1 in Big 12) had the momentum, as little as it was, heading into halftime with a 17-14 lead after a Walsh 3-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the second quarter.
However, the Kansas State offense took the opening drive of the second half 79 yards on 11 plays, eating up just under seven minutes of the clock, to reclaim the lead.
Oklahoma State’s offense put their defensive counterparts in a bind on the ensuing drive when Walsh fumbled on a designed run that gave the Wildcats the ball at the OSU 23-yard line.
That’s when the OSU defense went into ballhawk mode.
Linebacker Caleb Lavey forced a fumble of KSU quarterback Daniel Sams on the second play, and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah pounced on it.
The senior linebacker from Celina, Texas, then ended Kansas State’s next drive with an acrobatic interception on a rollout by Sams that put the ball at the KSU 22-yard line.
“We ended up with five (takeaways) and that’s our goal,” Lavey said. “We’re always glad to get more, but it was good for our defense to get those turnovers. It gives our offense more opportunities, so it was good momentum changers.”
The Oklahoma State defense made it three straight drives with a takeaway when Tyler Johnson sacked backup quarterback Jake Waters, forcing the ball loose with middle linebacker Shaun Lewis recovering at the 6-yard line of the Wildcats.
Kansas State (2-3, 0-2 in Big 12) got back on track in the middle of the fourth quarter, putting together an 11-play, 57-yard drive to go ahead 29-23 with 6:09 remaining in the game.
But just as it had done the previous times Kansas State scored, the OSU offense answered with its own scoring drive — going 75 yards in six plays and taking just 1:56 off the clock. Walsh connected with Charlie Moore for a 6-yard touchdown as the redshirt sophomore quarterback went 4 for 5 with 59 yards passing on the drive to creep ahead 30-29.
The Cowboy defense would then end Kansas State’s final two comeback attempts with Lewis — who also forced a fumble that was recovered by Kansas State in an earlier drive — and safety Daytawion Lowe each picking off a pass from Sams to seal the win.
Oklahoma State will get two weeks to prepare for its next opponent, which will be Texas Christian University in the homecoming game on Oct. 19 at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Jason Elmquist is sports editor of The Stillwater NewsPress.