OSU survives scare at Kansas
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Sunday, October 14, 2012
10/14/12 at 4:20 AM
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LAWRENCE, Kan. - Kicker and punter extraordinaire Quinn Sharp has helped Oklahoma State win a lot of games with footwork during his career.
Sharp ventured into new territory Saturday night. He preserved OSU's 20-14 victory over Kansas by absorbing a hit.
The Cowboys were clinging to their six-point lead late in the fourth quarter when Sharp punted the ball away. He was knocked to the Memorial Stadium turf when KU went all-out in an attempt to block the punt.
Yellow flags flew high in the air. And smiles broke out on OSU sideline. You'll never see a group of guys more happy to see a teammate get smacked.
A roughing the punter penalty (KU's D.J. Bashears was identified as the rougher) gave OSU a first down with 1:38 remaining. The Jayhawks had exhausted their timeouts, so all the Cowboys had to do to survive a much-closer-than-expected game was take enough knees to kill the clock.
OSU linebacker Joe Mitchell, asked to describe his feelings when Sharp drew the penalty, said "just relief."
Mitchell's coach felt the same way.
Mike Gundy indicated he was glad the Cowboy defense didn't have to go back on the field to try to get a game-saving stop.
What was there to worry about? Didn't OSU blank Kansas during the first three quarters?
Sure, but KU caught a spark after coach Charlie Weis switched quarterbacks. Second-team QB Michael Cummings directed the Jayhawks to consecutive touchdown drives (covering 65 and 73 yards) in the fourth quarter.
Said Gundy, "Their offense had some momentum at that point and time and, in this game, momentum is a really big factor, especially when you are on the road."
Cummings had a chance to lead a go-ahead drive. A possession stalled at the OSU 41 when Cummings overthrew a fourth-and-9 swing pass to Brandon Bourbon with 2:42 remaining.
It was not KU's day to gamble. The Jayhawks were 0-of-5 on fourth down attempts. And, of course, the roll of the dice in trying to block Sharp's punt backfired.
"I didn't think it was really that risky," Weis said. "You're trying to make a play, and I think that if you're going to block a punt it gives you an opportunity to have a short field and go win the game."
Sharp said he figured the Jayhawks would be bringing max blitz on the punt. He said hitting the ground hurt more than the actual hit. And he said he'll definitely take one for the team if it means winning the game, albeit an ugly one.
OSU (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) was favored by 27 1/2 points over a KU (1-4, 0-3) squad that has dropped 15 consecutive games against FBS opponents and 15 consecutive league games.
The Cowboys, who entered Lawrence as the nation's No. 1 team in total offense and scoring offense, were held to their fewest points since a Cotton Bowl loss to Mississippi at the end of the 2009 season. And they were outgained (398 yards to 371) in redshirt freshman quarterback J.W. Walsh's first road start.
Gundy told reporters he was glad to get out of town with a win - and it was his 62nd victory, which tied him with Pat Jones as the winningest coach in OSU history.
"During a season, you will have games where you don't play as well as you want or you think you should," Gundy said. "And if you win those games, that's a positive."
This game was delayed for 1 hour and 19 minutes by a first-quarter weather problem. OSU failed to score until midway through the second quarter. It was the longest game-opening drought for the Cowboys since they waited until the final minute before halftime to score against Kansas State on Oct. 30, 2010.
Mitchell, a backup linebacker, gave OSU a shot of momentum when he was inserted in the game for the first time in the second quarter. He was instructed to blitz KU starting quarterback Dayne Crist and dropped Crist on a third down play to force a punt.
OSU took over at midfield and drove for a touchdown. The Cowboys led 10-0 at the half and scored on their first play of the second half when Charlie Moore turned a short pass from Walsh into a 72-yard touchdown reception. The lead reached 20-0 before a game that once had zero suspense all of a sudden had plenty.
OSU 20, KANSAS 14
OSU UP NEXT
Vs. Iowa State 11 a.m. Saturday
TV: FX-35 Radio: KFAQ am1170
Original Print Headline: Cowboys survive scare to pull out win at Kansas
Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389
OSU's Shamiel Gary wraps up Kansas' James Sims. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World
OSU's Charlie Moore scores a touchdown on a 72-yard completion in the third quarter Saturday. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World
OSU quarterback J.W. Walsh completed 18 of his 29 pass attempts with a touchdown and an interception. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World