October 20, 2007

Just kickin' it

STILLWATER - After falling down 14 points early in the first half, Oklahoma State turned around a sour start into a sweet ending thanks to the leg of Jason Ricks.

After Kansas State scored a late touchdown to trail 38-37, Wildcat head coach Ron Prince went for two and succeeded, giving KSU a one-point lead with 1:10 to go in the game.

From there, the Cowboys were able to go back down the field and get into range for Ricks, who was frozen three times before kicking a game-winning 36-yard field goal to defeat the Wildcats 41-39 Saturday night in front of 41,725 at Boone Pickens Stadium.

This was a game the Cowboys (5-3 overall, 3-1 Big 12) overcame an early 14-point first half deficit to make it interesting the rest of the way, seemingly being positioned just out of reach to take full control of things several times. K-State's offense was rolling in the early going, as James Johnson ran in a five-yard score and Jordy Nelson caught a 17-yard pass from Josh Freeman to put KSU (4-3, 2-2) in position for the early kill. But after Perrish Cox's 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the Pokes traded punches with the Wildcats until the very end.

"It's a tribute to our team to come back with 1:10 left," Mike Gundy said. "That's a great call by coach Prince. A gutsy call on his part. Very well-planned, to go for two.

"I mentioned to the team that we've come a long ways as a group, because with the call he makes, he takes the wind out of your sails as a football team if you're not careful. You have them stopped, they drive the length of the field, they score, and then instead of tying it up and going to overtime, they go for two and then they convert it. Then you've got to go all the way the length of the field. So they've come a long way as a team and I'm proud of them for it."

Several different Cowboys made key contributions on that final drive to get into position for the win. It started with a 24-yard kickoff return from Tommy Devereaux. After that, Zac Robinson cobbled together two pass completions for 38 yards (he finished with 181 yards on the night) - one of them a 24-yarder to tailback Dantrell Savage. From there, Savage then added seven more yards to his rushing total for the night (124 yards total) to set up the Ricks kick.

"They got me down into position to win the game," Ricks said. "It just felt normal. I saw that they had three timeouts and it was just the same old thing. I just got comfortable out there and made the kick."

The fourth quarter was back and forth, as the Wildcats entered the final frame with a 28-24 lead before Robinson found Dez Bryant on a screen, who wove his way in for a score to put OSU up 31-28. KSU answered with a field goal to tie things up, then the Cowboys engineered a 75-yard drive, which was topped off with a 39-yard reception from Robinson to Brandon Pettigrew.

"It's just a simple play and I was just glad he caught it, because the ball was not thrown very well," Gundy said. "Kansas State's defender actually had a chance at it. I think he missed it and it went over his arm. Brandon kind of bobbled it and took off, and then cut back. He has a unique ability for a guy that's 6-6 to make people miss in space. And then when he gets going down the sideline, he has the ability to lay out and put it over the goal line, because football is important to him. Some guys say it's okay to go out on the 5-yard-line. He doesn't think that way. He wants to score."

And score he did. And the Pokes, after the rough start to the season, now have three wins in conference play.

"I think this was a must-win." Adarius Bowman said. " I really think this win right here could spark us off to a lot more wins throughout the season. All I could think of since Texas A&M was our guys were trying real hard on finishing. We really left with a bad feeling after that A&M game. All our guys have to put out all the extra work that they needed to go out and learn how to finish."

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