I’ve watched the last Kansas State drive, and more specifically, the last three plays, about 10 times since Saturday night. I was going to write about that last series for today’s paper until Mike Gundy really opened up about his time with Les Miles and what he meant to OSU. So that shifted our plans a bit.
Still, I got some great insight from players and coaches about the Wildcats’ last possession, a 15-play, 66-yard drive down to the Cowboys’ five-yard line that ended when a Collin Klein pass fell incomplete in the end zone in the final second.
“It was very, very, very stressful,” OSU defensive end Richetti Jones said. “The whole time we were like, let’s get it done, let’s win the game. Let’s get off the field, let’s get a turnover and just go home. It seemed like the longest drive of my life.”
K-State converted a fourth-and-four with a seven-yard run by Klein down to the OSU 27 and later got a huge play when Klein completed a 22-yard pass to Chris Harper near the sideline at the Cowboys’ five-yard line with 12 seconds left.
Then things got even more dramatic.
Klein tried to go to the right corner of the end zone when he lofted a pass to Tyler Lockett on a fade route, which was broken up by Markelle Martin. Then, with five seconds left, Klein went the other way on a pass to Harper, which was batted away by Brodrick Brown.
Plenty of Cowboys thought the game was over after that, but there was still one second left on the clock.
“I was taking off my earphones,” OSU defensive coordinator Bill Young said. “I had my back to the scoreboard and I thought the game was over. Then I turned around, and I’ll be doggone if there wasn’t another second. I took them off anyway and we just stood there and talked to each other and made the call and there we went.”
Young called a base defense used frequently near the goal line and pointed out two key things to me that were important to disrupting K-State’s final play.
First, Shaun Lewis jumped to cover Harper, who was set in motion before the snap, out in the flat. That forced Klein to throw the ball toward outside receivers Lockett and Torell Miller, who were running a similar route in the end zone.
Second, Jones got in the nine technique—you’ll see him shift over so he’s outside the tight end’s shoulder right before the snap—which helped him get up the field and block Klein’s vision a little bit as he rolled to his right.
The pass fell incomplete, and OSU escaped with a 52-45 victory.
Here are some more quotes players and coaches about that last drive.
On the drive:
Safety Markelle Martin
“You just had a feeling that something had to give for us. For me, I just continued to say ‘It’s time to make a play.’ Fortunately for me, they threw a ball my way and I got to make a play. They tried Brodrick, and he made a play. The key guys on the defense continued to make plays, continued to fight.”
“It just came down to the wire and I was just like, ‘I’m glad it’s over. I’m glad we won.’ I was excited, but I was emotional and just tired.”
Defensive coordinator Bill Young
“To have our players down there with (three) downs inside the five-yard line, that was a heck of a feat for them and you really have take your hat off to them.”
On there being one second left on the clock:
Coach Mike Gundy
“I thought it was a nightmare. I looked up there and was like ‘What?’ It’s like the old high school operator. Surely, somebody could have let that run off. I can promise you, if we were at Midwest City, there would not have been one second left. It would have expired while the ball was in the air. Are you kidding me?
“My family, my kids, everybody was like ‘What happened? What’s your clock operator (doing)?’ It’s not our clock operator. He works for the Big 12, and that’s why. But I promise you, if it wasn’t for that, time’s expired. It’s over with.
“That was kind of like the ultimate downer. Everybody’s like ‘Really? We’ve got another second?’”
Defensive end Richetti Jones
“The second-to-last play, I thought the game was over. When there were five seconds left and Brodrick broke up the pass, I was like ‘Yes! It’s over.’ I could not believe they left one second on the clock. Really? That’s something that happens when you’re on the road.”
On the last play:
Quarterback Brandon Weeden
“I watched it. I was on a knee on the way other side and had a pretty good view of it. I was kind of bummed, because whenever they threw that pass in the corner, there was one second left. I went to grab my helmet, and I said ‘Screw that.’ So I set my helmet back down and ran back to the other end, took a knee and watched it. It was plenty of excitement. Too much excitement.”
Defensive end Richetti Jones
“When that one second was left, I thought ‘OK, everything you have for one second. All the hard work, two-a-days, the spring, everything, for one second to stay undefeated.’ Everybody just did their job, and when I saw him throw the pass to nobody, I was like ‘Yes!’ It was over. Sigh of relief, and I just had to thank God that it was over.”