Cowboys' Nicholas forces big turnover against TCU
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Sunday, October 28, 2012
10/28/12 at 6:28 AM
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STILLWATER - Nigel Nicholas sacked TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, got up and started celebrating with an Oklahoma State teammate.
Then, several seconds later, came Nicholas' fumble recovery and 22-yard return.
"When I knocked the ball out of his hands, I didn't see where it went," Nicholas said. "I started celebrating, me and Calvin Barnett.
"I swear I heard coach (Mike) Gundy say, 'Pick it up! Pick it up!' I looked down and saw it, so I picked it up and took off running."
Boykin was in the pocket preparing to throw when hit by Nicholas, so when the ball fell to the Boone Pickens Stadium turf, most players on the field believed the result of the play was an incomplete pass.
But as the ball lay untouched near the OSU sideline, no official blew the play dead. The coaching staff wound up with a 5-yard interference penalty while trying to get one of the Cowboys to pounce on it.
"We had a bunch of guys on the field yelling at (Nicholas) to pick the ball up," defensive coordinator Bill Young said. "We practice every day, anytime there's any doubt that it's a fumble to go pick it up.
"The official was just standing there waiting for somebody to go get it. It was a crazy play. I think I was at the numbers pointing at the ball. I think I'm the one who got the penalty for being on the field."
The play occurred midway through the fourth quarter after OSU had taken a 26-14 lead, but the Horned Frogs were driving, having already advanced to the Cowboy 20.
An animated crowd of 57,183 may have played a role in the dramatic fumble recovery.
"With a big play like that and with the west end zone, how it is closed in, I couldn't hear the whistle," defensive end Cooper Bassett said. " ... It was a great play by Nigel.
"He got a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery all in the same play. We were joking with him and telling him he got a triple play right there."
If Boykin hadn't peeled himself off the turf, Nicholas might have returned the fumble for a touchdown. He said he received some ribbing from teammates for getting tackled by the opposing quarterback.
"I just keep replaying it in my mind," Nicholas said. "I wish I had just cut inside because I had a lot of blocking, but I was so excited that I had the ball and I hadn't picked up a ball and ran it since high school.
"I was a little rusty. Maybe next time I can take it to the crib."
After a slow start, OSU's defense recorded perhaps its best performance of the season, but it wasn't until the fourth quarter that the turnovers started rolling in.
"That's what we need as a defense," Bassett said. "You can shut them down and shut them down and shut them down, but eventually, if you don't make a big play, they will. It was great to have guys like Nigel make big plays today."
To close out the 36-14 win, the defense came up with a pair of interceptions later in the fourth quarter.
Safety Daytawion Lowe plucked a Boykin pass out of the air, cut across the field and returned it 43 yards. It initially appeared he made it into the end zone, but officials ruled he went out of bounds just shy.
"I was just trying to get in," Lowe said. "Unfortunately, they said I didn't. I thought I did. At least we scored (on the next play). That's all that matters."
The other interception occurred on the final play, when backup Matt Brown was picked off by safety Zack Craig. The three takeaways were the most in a game by an OSU defense that has struggled in the turnover department, forcing only six before Saturday.
"We got a few of them," Young said. "It's about time, right?"
Original Print Headline: Nicholas picks up 'triple play' on sack
Kelly Hines 918-581-8452
TCU's Skye Dawson recovers his own fumble and is tackled by OSU's Justin Gilbert on Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World