Kolby Harvell-Peel waited for the perfect moment.
The Kansas State offense marched inside the Oklahoma State 25-yard line, looking to score points on the board, down 21.
Wildcats quarterback Jaren Lewis rushed forward, desperately trying to avoid OSU defensive tackle Jayden Jernigan in pursuit. Lewis met receiver Landry Weber five yards down the field, pretended to run, then directed a pass to Weber.
Harvell-Peel jumped the pass, catching a key interception in under two minutes in the first half.
Peel’s interception on Saturday was one of the Cowboys’ crucial high school games in their 31-20 win over Kansas State at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater.
Harvell-Peel turned in a dynamic turnover for the second game in a row. Peel remains humble, despite his critical play.
“Nothing special that I see,” said Harvell-Peel. “I’m just trying to do my job. I had a few occasions where I thought I should have made games. I’m just trying to capitalize on the chances I have to get my hands on the ball.
In addition to Peel’s interception, the secondary had five break-ups, including three from Jarrick Bernard-Converse in the game’s first practice. Malcolm Rodriguez believes Bernard-Converse’s crucial games set the tone early for the rest of the game.
“They’re not going to throw the ball at us,” Rodriguez said. “Jarrick locked up their main guy. Accessories at Jarrick. He’s a hard worker, he works hard in training, I knew he was going to make games like that.
The OSU defense forced two turnovers, including recovering Rodriguez’s fumble in the end zone, which gave the Cowboys a double-digit lead. Knowles encourages his players to continue playing at a high level.
“They are always looking for the ball, they harass it and they peddle it. I feel like our guys are always on top when it comes to this area, ”Knowles said.
Entering that game, the Kansas State offense rolled behind the legs of running back Deuce Vaughn. Vaughn totaled 371 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns in KSU’s first three games of the season. Knowles gave the back-end partial credit for stopping the rush.
“Deuce Vaughn is really hard to take down,” Knowles said. “Because we were playing really well in our cover, we were able to really lock it in and clutter the line of scrimmage.”
The defensive line hit the Wildcat quarterbacks, totaling nine quarterback hits. Harvell-Peel praised OSU’s defensive line for high school success.
“They make it so much easier,” said Harvell-Peel. “When they play well, we play well in the back end. I appreciate all of these guys, and they need more love than they get.
OSU was able to rotate more defensive backs as the game progressed and the Cowboys’ lead increased. Korie Black, Thomas Harper and Jabbar Muhammad each played an increased number of snaps, making important plays on defense and special teams.
Coach Mike Gundy believes defense success comes from the chemistry all players have with each other.
“This team plays more together than any team I can remember,” Gundy said. “I am proud of the way they continue to play as a unit.”