Overtime Was The Bounce Back For Oklahoma State's Defense

Oklahoma State's defense made the plays when needed to help secure the Cowboys overtime victory over West Virginia

In the Oklahoma State Cowboys last two games – the Big 12 wins at Texas and then at home against Kansas State – there was a suffocating second half of defense that was part of the equation to the hard fought wins. Against Texas, the Cowboys defense held the Longhorns' offense to 48 yards in the second half and the next week they stuffed Kansas State for just 121 yards and six points in the second half with a grand total of one yard in the third quarter.

On Saturday night at West Virginia as Oklahoma State raised their record to 6-0 on the season with a 33-26 overtime win over the Mountaineers it was overtime that proved to be a bounce back for an Oklahoma State defense that dominated the first half and slipped a little in the second half. 

Oklahoma State led 17-2 at halftime and in that first half not only did the defense hold West Virginia to 147 yards and no points as the only score came on a safety but the defense had three fumble recoveries that resulted in a touchdown as potential All-American defensive Emmanuel Ogbah recovered a Skylar Howard fumble in the end zone for a score, the first of his career. Another fumble caused by Ogbah and recovered by linebacker Chad Whitener led to a short 28-yard drive by the offense to make it 14-0. 

In the second half the Mountaineers started running the football and hitting on some of their shots downfield, including a 48-yard touchdown pass from Howard to Shelton Gibson. By the end of the game in regulation the home team had tied the score and had posted 282 yards of offense with 24 points all in that second half. 

Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said the ankle injury that finally put senior cornerback Kevin Peterson on the bench for the rest of the night had led to the defense using an extra corner to bolster pass coverage. The extra corner was usually Michael Hunter. In the overtime, in a confined area, 25 yards and in, Spencer abandoned that look.

"(I told the guys) we're going back to what we do best," Spencer explained. "We're going to play our base stuff and stop the run to win the game."

After the OSU offense ran the ball the best they had run it in a long time in the overtime with back-to-back seven-yard runs by Rennie Childs to start the possession they finished it off on a fourth down with a J.W. Walsh touchdown to set the defense up for its heroics.

Those took awhile as West Virginia drove the ball to the OSU 4-yard line, converting on their own fourth-and-2 at the 17-yard line. It came down to a third down-and-goal at the 4, and Spencer dialed up what looked like a "sword" blitz with the (star) strongside linebacker and strong safety both blitzing. In this case Jordan Burton and Tre Flowers met in the backfield to dump Rushel Shell for a seven-yard loss. That set up a fourth-and-11 for the game and even though Dakiel Shorts appeared to be slightly open, Skylar Howard's pass went through the end zone and the Cowboys had a signature win in prime time on the road.

"Our offense did the job and then in overtime we got after them pretty good," Jordan Sterns said. "I think we were going to be aggressive or else in the overtime, and the players were right in with the coaches on that."

"We knew they had two receivers in the area but Jerel (Morrow) and I had said they weren't going to have a chance to make  play," cornerback Ashton Lampkin said. "We were going to make sure the ball was separated, period."

Sterns also said when it was over and had sunk in as the Cowboys were singing the alma mater with the OSU fans that the last few weeks has made him feel older.

"I feel really old, really old, like I'm 50 years old and have white hair and I'm going to die of a heart attack," Sterns said laughing some. "Maybe we can get some of these upcoming games under control earlier."

In the meantime the name Cardiac Cowboys, which in the previous days seemed to really apply to the Oklahoma State offense, may apply to the entire team this version or specifically to the defense, which is still really good even if a half or a half and an overtime is their specialty.

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