STILLWATER – Late in the third quarter Saturday, Charlie Moore recognized the way Kansas State cornerback Kip Daily was defending him on the goal line and took note.
“I came off the field and said, ‘Hey, if we get back on the goal line, I think I can run an out-route on this guy. He's using inside leverage,'” Moore said of his conversation with coaches.
Big “if”, the way the Cowboys offense was moving, or not moving as was the case.
Through their first five possessions of the second half, stretching well into the fourth quarter, the Cowboys didn't have a single first down. The crowd was beyond restless, to the point that a smattering of boos echoed through Boone Pickens Stadium.
Then something flipped.
Kansas State had just taken a 29-23 lead with 6:09 left, putting pressure clearly on OSU's scuffling offense, which swiftly marched 75 yards to retake the lead. So sudden was the change, the previously inept Cowboys produced four straight first downs on gains of 12, 26, 16 and 15 yards to the Wildcats 6.
“I guess we had those in our back pocket,” OSU quarterback J.W. Walsh said with a straight face. “We saved them for the right time.”
The nick of time.
And two plays later, Walsh hit Moore for the touchdown in the front corner of the end zone, turning out with Daily refusing to give him the inside.
“That was a veteran player making a veteran play and a veteran call,” Walsh said. “He came off the sideline and told coach (Kasey) Dunn and the coaches made the adjustment. I saw what he saw and we made it happen.
“We'd had trouble in the red zone scoring and we absolutely needed that. Big-time play by a veteran player.”
Big-time drive. Also needed.
“Last week, we had an opportunity to do the same thing we did today and we failed,” Walsh said of the offense's struggles in a 30-21 loss at West Virginia.
“When we stepped on the field on that drive, we needed to win. We needed to score. The guys took it as a challenge to go out there and succeed with it. And we did.”
After not producing a play of more than six yards in the second half to that point, Walsh opened the drive with a 12-yard throw to Josh Stewart.
And the offense seemed to exhale.
“Anytime you can get your drive going,” Walsh said, “that's when good things start to happen. And that's when you start to roll.
“We needed that.”
Walsh followed with a 26-yard strike to Tracy Moore, before Jeremy Smith had his longest run of the day, a 16-yard scamper to the K-State 21. Then Walsh struck again, this time on a pass of 15 yards to Brandon Sheperd, and the Cowboys were at the 6.
“A lot of offense is about rhythm and getting into the flow,” said Cowboys offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. “We found it.
“That was really important for us, at the critical time. To be able to find it at that point, when you've struggled for a half, and be able to go down and score, that was really important.”
Soon, Charlie Moore turned Daily inside-out.
“I recall the big catch Tracy made, that was a big play,” Charlie Moore said. “But really, every play. It was a good drive. And a solid group effort, from the linemen to the receivers to the quarterback throws and the running back running the ball downhill.
“It was just a great drive.”