MANHATTAN, Kan. – Oklahoma State was missing so many offensive players to injuries this week that coach Mike Gundy joked he took most of the reps at running back, even though he's a 53-year-old ex-quarterback who was hardly known for his wheels.
Good thing the Cowboys' defense showed up against Kansas State.
Jason Taylor II returned a fumble 85 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, and Oklahoma State stopped the Wildcats' 2-point try that would have tied the game with 2:08 to go, allowing the No. 14 Cowboys to escape with a 20-18 victory Saturday night that kept their Big 12 title hopes alive.
“We don't ever talk about it,” Gundy said, “but they need the credit this week for fighting through where they were and finding aw ay to win on the road and play this game. It's extremely difficult when you don't have your guys practicing, even though they're some veteran guys. You need to practice.”
Spencer Sanders was held to just 108 yards passing without dynamic wide receiver Tylan Wallace and with running back Chuba Hubbard slowed by an injury. LD Brown helped to pick up the load, running for 110 yards, as Oklahoma State (5-1, 4-1) leaned on a defense that was trampled by Texas a week ago.
“With all the adversity we faced, all the guys out, we just found a way," Oklahoma State linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga said. "We have a great bond and it's games like this that define who we are.”
The Wildcats (4-3, 4-2) were forced to try for the tying 2-point conversion after Will Howard's short TD run because of their odd decision to attempt a 2-point try to stretch a 12-0 lead in the first half. Howard was incomplete on that one, and he never got a pass off on the second — he fumbled the ball as the pocket collapsed around him.
Oklahoma State guided the ensuing onside kick out of bounds and ran some time off the clock before punting back to the Wildcats, but Howard immediately threw an interception with 1:47 to go to seal their fate.