Oklahoma State football: Special teams gaffes costly for Oklahoma State

BEDLAM 2013 — Oklahoma scored twice out of the kicking game. On the first, OU's Jalen Saunders returned a punt 64 yards for a touchdown. On the second, kicker Michael Hunnicutt caught an 8-yard pass from Grant Bothun on a fake field goal.
by John Helsley Published: December 7, 2013


photo -  Jalen Saunders had two touchdowns for OU on Saturday, including this 64-yard punt return score in the first quarter.. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Jalen Saunders had two touchdowns for OU on Saturday, including this 64-yard punt return score in the first quarter.. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Oklahoma scored 33 points Saturday. With one offensive touchdown.

For Oklahoma State, that added up to bad math.

The common denominator: bad special teams.

The Sooners scored on a punt return and a fake field goal, with the latter coming with a kicker – the kicker.

Until the closing seconds, OU scuffled to move the ball and convert third downs and couldn't get any of its three quarterbacks to come close to throwing a touchdown pass, yet holder Grant Bothun flipped an 8-yard pass to Sooners kicker Michael Hunnicutt for a scoring pass that tied the game 17-17 late in the third quarter and seemed to scramble momentum for the second time in the game.

The first came when Jalen Saunders erased an early Cowboys lead with a 64-yard punt return for a score in the first quarter.

“We lost the kicking game,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy.

And it's a major reason the Cowboys lost Bedlam, 33-24.

“We gave up 14 points in the kicking game,” Gundy said. “When you do that, it's always really tough to win.”

Consider, too, the timing of the kicking game gaffes:

* With OSU leading 7-0 in the first quarter and its defense doing good work, Saunders jolted the crowd and the Cowboys with his big return – his second against OSU in two years – making the first few tacklers miss, and finally punter Kip Smith, before zipping to the end zone.

“The guy's a good returner,” Gundy said. “We knew it. We coached it. We worked it hard. He made a couple guys miss and we didn't tackle as well as we should.”

* With OSU leading 17-10 in the closing minutes of the third quarter and the Cowboys defense doing good work, halting a Sooners' drive following a Clint Chelf interception, Bob Stoops dug into his bag of tricks. Bothun took the snap, rolled left and shoved a pass to Hunnicutt, who just made it to the end zone before getting clobbered. So instead of it being 17-13, it became 17-17. And uneasy inside Boone Pickens Stadium.

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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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