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Oklahoma State Football

Defense and Special Teams Have Huge Game Against Baylor

October 1, 2022

While it wasn’t the prettiest win we’ve ever seen from an Oklahoma State team, the 36-25 Big 12 road win over No. 14/16 Baylor was certainly one of the grittiest and gutsiest wins we’ve seen from an Oklahoma State team.

Spencer Sanders and the offense had a solid afternoon as they combined for 379 yards of total offense, 213 through the air and 166 on the ground, it was the defense and special teams unit that came up big in clutch moments.

We’ll start with easily one of the best sequences of the game for the Pokes. It’s the end of the first quarter and the Cowboys are up 7-3. After a stalled drive by Sanders and the offense, Tom Hutton comes out for a punt from the Baylor 39-yard line, hoping to pin the Bears deep. Well, that’s exactly what happened as Hutton’s punt was downed at the two-yard line.

On the very next play, Brock Martin blows a run by Baylor running back Richard Reese up in the end zone, which is immediately followed by a combination of Kendal Daniels and Mason Cobb for a safety. It marked the second safety of the season for the Cowboys, just the first time since 1991 that’s happened.

“To be honest, special teams won the game today, did they not?” Martin told the Cowboy Radio Network. “Kickoff [return] for a touchdown and I’ll give that safety to the punt team. That’s nine points and how many did we win by?”

As Brock Martin said, kickoff for a touchdown. That honor goes to redshirt freshman speedster, Jaden Nixon. The Cowboys won the opening coin toss and deferred to the second half, which ended up being a really good decision for the Pokes in more ways than one. Spencer Sanders got into the end zone with less than 30 seconds left in the half to go up 16-3, then the Pokes got the ball to start the second half.

Enter Jaden Nixon.

Nixon fielded a 63-yard kickoff from Noah Rauschenberg, they Baylor kicker out of Tulsa (OK) Union, at the OSU two-yard line and proceeded to take it 98-yards to the house.

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“So, it’s opening kickoff to the half, so it’s always a big deal,” Jaden Nixon told the Cowboy Radio Network. “The first thing in my head is just secure the catch, just secure the catch because that’s the most important thing. I’m just following my blockers and they just did a great job, they made a hole, they’ve been doing it all week in practice. They went out there and hit somebody to create a hole and once I saw [the hole], I was like ‘this is going.’ I go through the two tackles and I’m like ‘I’m not going down again,’ because the those first two weeks, I had those [returns] where I got tripped up. I really can’t think my blockers enough because without them, without that big hole, it wouldn’t have been as big as it was.”

Counting the safety created by the Hutton punt, the kickoff return by Nixon, the two field goals and four point-after kicks, the Cowboys scored 18 points off special teams.

As for the defense, the Cowboys were solid for most of the game. Xavier Benson led the way with 10 total tackles, six of which were solo stops, while fellow linebacker Mason Cobb recorded five total tackles, including the safety and a touchdown-saving open field tackle for no gain on fourth down from the OSU seven-yard line, giving the Pokes the ball back with 8:23 in the second quarter.

On the game, OSU held Baylor to 3-of-11 on third down attempts. The Bears were, however, successful on fourth down attempts as they went 3-for-5 with one being a 70-yard touchdown pass from Shapen to Monaray.

“We prepared well for that,” Cobb told the Cowboy Radio Network of 3rd and 4th down conversions. “Coach [Derek] Mason, we worked on that all [last] week and we had two weeks to prepare, so we were ready for that kind of stuff. [Baylor] made some good plays [on fourth down].”

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Both Brock Martin and Collin Oliver recorded sacks on the game, with the defense on the whole recorded six tackles for loss, Sione Asi with two, Thomas Harper with 1.5, Martin and Oliver with one apiece and Cobb with 0.5.

They also combined for three quarterback hurries, but it was the two interceptions in the fourth quarter, one at the 8:52 mark and the other at the 2:55 mark which sealed the game for the Pokes. Thomas Harper recorded just the second interception of his career, a pass from Blake Shapen intended for Gavin Holmes, which led to a 26-yard field goal from Tanner Brown to put the Pokes up by 11-points, 36-25.

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On the very next drive, Martin recorded his sack on the first play of the drive as Shapen went down without contact. Shapen would then move Baylor down the field looking to score, but Jason Taylor II had another plan in mind. On 2nd and five from the Baylor 42, Taylor II made a veteran read of a pass from Shapen to Josh Cameron and hauled in an interception with 2:55 left in the game at the OSU 29-yard line to effectively seal the game.

After a drive which killed a ton of game clock, Tom Hutton pinned Baylor deep once again, a 47-yarder fair caught at the Baylor 15-yard line, giving the Bears an insurmountable amount of field to cover in too short of an amount of time.

This was an incredibly important game of the Pokes as it not only gives the defense a ton of confidence in stopping a pretty good Baylor offense, but it gives them valuable game film to learn from moving forward as they face a salty Texas Tech team in Stillwater next weekend.

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Defense and Special Teams Have Huge Game Against Baylor

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