OSU football: Five takeaways from Cowboys' 20-18 win over Kansas State
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy put the game in the hands of his defense in the final two minutes on Saturday night.
And that was after the defense had already taken the game in its own hands once anyway.
Gundy’s decision paid off when OSU safety Tre Sterling intercepted a Will Howard pass and sealed the No. 14 Cowboys’ 20-18 win over Kansas State in a painfully close game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
The Cowboy defense had been big all night, despite allowing a couple of explosive plays that led to points. Twice when Kansas State reached the red zone, OSU forced field goals.
Kansas State didn’t have a first down in the third quarter, punting three times.
And when it felt like K-State had regained momentum, the defense came up with its biggest play.
Howard, the Wildcats’ freshman quarterback, ran up the middle, but OSU defensive tackle Israel Antwine reached out and pulled the ball loose. It popped straight into the hands of Cowboy safety Jason Taylor, who returned it 85 yards for a touchdown with 6:32 to play.
After bending and allowing a touchdown that drew it to a two-point game, the defense still shut the door with Sterling’s interception.
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“The defense was able to step up and score a touchdown,” Gundy said. “Percentages will tell you when the defense scores a touchdown, you have a good chance to win the game. That’s what happened today.”
Here are four other takeaways from the OSU-Kansas State game:
Two-point conversion stop looms large
Kansas State decided to chase points in the second quarter. Leading 12-0 after scoring a touchdown, Kansas State coach Chris Klieman went for a two-point conversion.
Howard’s pass to his left fell incomplete, yet had the Wildcats kicked an extra point, they would have been in position to tie the game with a fourth-quarter touchdown run by Howard.
Instead, the Cowboys led 20-18 and K-State had to go for two yet again. As Howard dropped back to pass, OSU defensive end Brock Martin knocked the ball out of his hand, resulting in a failed try yet again.
Hubbard, Wallace, Harvell-Peel deal with injuries
Some injuries lingered from last Saturday against Texas. Some happened during the week. And some came on Saturday.
Regardless, the Cowboys were shorthanded in multiple positions in Manhattan.
Safety Kolby Harvell-Peel suffered a lower leg injury last week against Texas. Receiver Tylan Wallace sustained a minor muscle injury during the week but was not healthy enough to play. Early in the third quarter, Chuba Hubbard limped off the field and didn’t return.
And that wasn’t all the injuries that hampered Oklahoma State on Saturday. With offensive lineman Jake Springfield out from an injury suffered last week, Teven Jenkins left the game briefly with an ankle injury, but had to return when his replacement, Taylor Miterko, suffered a more severe injury.
But the Cowboys limped through, with the help of a second-half surge by the run game, and another strong defensive performance.
Brown brings a spark
LD Brown sprinted to his left for a crucial 11-yard gain to pick up a first down, but in a one-on-one situation, Brown slowed down and ran out of bounds.
Brown had joined the list of injured Cowboy players, but not before he made some of the game’s most important plays.
With 9:40 left in the third quarter and the Cowboys trailing 12-3, Brown broke free for a 50-yard run to the K-State 1-yard line. OSU briefly went backwards before scoring a touchdown.
On the next possession, Brown had a 23-yard run that got the Cowboys into K-State territory on the way to Alex Hale’s go-ahead field goal.
Presley scores first career TD
Way back in August, Gundy suggested Bixby product and true freshman Brennan Presley would be an impact player this season.
After playing sparingly in the first half of the season, Presley got plenty of action on Saturday with Dillon Stoner moving out of the slot receiver position to fill in for Wallace on the outside.
But Presley’s first big play came on a rush, when he took a jet sweep handoff from Spencer Sanders on third-and-goal from the 9 and ran through a tackle on the way to his first career touchdown.