STILLWATER — Shaun Lewis and the Oklahoma State defense huddled before a fourth-quarter drive Saturday against Kansas State to dig up a bad memory.
They talked about last season's Texas game at Boone Pickens Stadium, where, regardless of any questionable calls by the officials, the Cowboys allowed a key fourth-down conversion and a deep sideline pass play as the Longhorns marched toward the game-winning score.
Then the Cowboys stressed to each other they would not let that happen again.
And they didn't. OSU's defense returned to its opportunistic ways, forcing five Wildcat turnovers — including takeaways on K-State's final two possessions — to help the No. 21 Cowboys hold on for a 33-29 victory.
“We just emphasized everyone doing their jobs and giving relentless effort and making the play when the chance presented itself,” said Lewis, who finished the day with a forced fumble, fumble recovery and interception. “We went out and did it today.”
The consensus has been OSU's defense has done its job in every game this season, including last week's stunning upset at West Virginia. But those players and coaches believed they needed one more turnover vs. WVU.
Saturday, they came in bunches. The Cowboys took the ball away on three consecutive possessions in the third quarter — including two that set OSU up inside the K-State 22-yard line and led to a pair of Ben Grogan field goals.
Later, interceptions by Lewis and Daytawion Lowe on back-to-back possessions in the game's last four minutes squelched any chance of a Wildcat rally.
“There's been a number of games here in the last 20 years that I've been involved with where teams went right down the field at the end and scored on the defense,” Cowboy coach Mike Gundy said. “That was different here with these guys. They continue to get better. They worked hard.
“They've bought into the system, they've bought into the coaches and they're finding a way to get it done at the end.”
The turnover production came from all over. Defensive end Tyler Johnson, Lewis and linebacker Caleb Lavey all forced fumbles. Lewis and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah recovered fumbles. Lewis, Lavey and safety Lowe each tallied interceptions.
The momentum-building plays were reminiscent of the 2011 Cowboy defense, which led the nation with 44 takeaways. Lavey said those types of plays build excitement on the sideline and throughout the stadium.