Watts Powers Wildcat D

K-State safety Marcus Watts is making writing about the Wildcat defense easier every week. Sports writers can simply copy the sentence, "Marcus Watts stepped up with a big play," and paste it into every story.

If there was any doubt, the Hays native further solidified himself as THE playmaker on the Wildcat defense on Saturday against Oklahoma State with not one, not two, but three big plays.

First, Watts cut through the Cowboys blockers to block a Matt Fodge punt in the second quarter. Wide receiver Daniel Gonzalez promptly scooped up the loose ball and took it into the end zone to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead. It was that play that would make his later feats even more impressive.

"I came scot-free," Watts said. "I just put my hand down on the ball. It was a big play and big momentum for us."

On the punt, Watts came up with an injured hand. The extent of the injury was not discussed, but it was enough to have Watts head back to the locker room to have it wrapped.

"Watts has a good heart," cornerback Byron Garvin said. "I know he got hurt in the second quarter, but he came back in and fought to win."

Watts had four tackles, including one for loss, on the day, but even more heroics came from the junior in the final 20 seconds. On second-and-one from the K-State 26, Cowboy quarterback Bobby Reid looked to receiver Adarius Bowman streaking down the middle of the field with a chance to take the lead. Reid, a sophomore, made a needle-threading pass that Bowman looked to have in his grasp. until Watts came up with a teeth-loosening hit that left Bowman and the football on the Wagner Field hurt.

"I've got to tip my hat to the safety," Reid said of the pass break-up. "He made a good play. I thought (Bowman) had it. I thought he caught it for a touchdown and it was over."

"(Reid) was looking at (Bowman) the whole time and I knew he was going to throw it to him," Watts said, "so I left my landmark. Luckily, I got there at the same time as the ball, and luckily he couldn't hold on."

Just 18 seconds later, Watts came up with the game-ending interception, picking off a deflected ball after Reid tried to take advantage of the Wildcats' short cornerbacks with a jump ball in the corner of the endzone.

"It bounced down," Watts said, "and (Bowman) almost had it, actually. But he missed it, and it bounced right to me. I just fell on the ground after that, because I knew the game was over."

Despite his seemingly strong performance, Watts was not satisfied with the Wildcats' effort on the defensive side of the ball.

"As a defense, we didn't play very well today," Watts said. "We needed the offense to step up today, and they came through for us big time."

K-State allowed 19 Cowboy first downs and 331 total yards, including 193 yards on the ground.

THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD. SPECIAL TEAMS?

You won't find that in any book of sports clichés, but it is becoming a reality for the 2006 Wildcats. With two more special teams touchdowns on Saturday, courtesy Marcus Watts' blocked punt and Daniel Gonzalez's return, along with Leon Patton's kick return, the Wildcats' special teams units scored their third and fourth touchdowns of the season. Combined with Byron Garvin's fumble return in the opener, four Wildcat touchdowns have come with the offense on the sidelines.

How significant have these points been? Consider the following: omitting the offensive statistical anomaly that was the K-State victory over Florida Atlantic, the Wildcat offense has scored five total touchdowns this season. In those same five games (the FAU game still stricken), the defense and special teams have also combined to score four touchdowns.

Even though the offense seemed to show definite signs of escaping a season-long funk with two late scoring drives to top Oklahoma State, the Wildcat defense and special teams units will be relied upon to make big plays throughout the season. With youth leading the way on the offensive side of the football, K-State's other units will have to continue to make an impact for the season to be a success.


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