STILLWATER — Sophomore safety Kolby Harvell-Peel found a way to top a Oklahoma State single-game record with six pass breakups in the Cowboys' 34-27 upset of Iowa State on Oct. 26.
Harvell-Peel was a turnover machine in the Cowboys' 34-27 victory over TCU Saturday with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. OSU's plus three turnover margin (4-1) over the Horned Frogs proved to be one of the turning points of the game.
The first interception was in the end zone to stop TCU's third drive of the game. The second came two plays after the Frogs' Trevon Moehrig had stopped an OSU drive with an interception at the TCU 10. Harvell-Peel recovered his own fumble on the play and two plays later Chuba Hubbard dashed 62 yards for a score to put the Cowboys on top, 31-17.
The fumble recovery stopped TCU's first threat of the second half at the OSU 18.
"There wasn't a specific play that was my favorite,'' Harvell-Peel said. "I didn't have any specific motivation. It's like what I say after all the games. I'm just doing what the coaches draw up. Tre (Cowboy safety Sterling who missed the game with an injury) went down during the week so I had to slide over into another position. I was trying to pick up the bandit position and play whatever the coaches drew up.''
To OSU head coach Mike Gundy, Harvell-Peel went beyond that. The second interception reminded Gundy of baseball great Willie Mays'd with athleticism.
"The one down here at this end was a great catch,'' Gundy said. "I thought he (TCU quarterback Max Duggan) threw it so far that he's never going to get to that. He kind of Willie Mays it a little bit and went over the shoulder with it.''
The ball was a little like a pop fly to ex-baseball player Harvell-Peel, who was more of an infielder than outfielder.
"I felt like it was up there forever,'' he said. "I was trying to figure out how I was going to catch it and I got turned around. Those are tough to judge. I'm not going to lie. They were up there hanging. In my head I was talking to myself am I going to catch it this way or I am going to have to flip around on that one. I can't really tell what I was going through my head at the time, but I was glad I was able to come down with it.
Gundy said Harvell-Peel, who started four games as a freshman last season, is a hard and humble worker.
Harvell-Peel couldn't ever remember a game that he had three turnovers before.
"I played well personally but we had a lot of guys step up and play well," he said. "We came away with a win. You can't complain about anything. I'm glad that I had two of them (interceptions) but I had two of them that I want back. I felt like I could have contributed more, but I'm happy to contribute to a win. We haven't had back-to-back conference wins since I've been here so that was a big win. I've always been more of a tackler, but it was a big one for me. I'm not going to lie, the win is more important to me.''
Harvell-Peel had injured a shoulder against the Cyclones and was limited in practice. He didn't show any affects of it Saturday.
OSU had lost three starters — star wide receiver Tylan Wallace, center Johnny Wilson and Sterling — to injuries on Wednesday. Gundy said he never saw anything like that in his almost 30-year coaching career and praised the Cowboys for their ability to overcome it.
Tanner McCallister, Sterling's replacement, was credited with three solo and three assisted tackles and had a tackle for a loss. Harvell-Peel had five solo stops and one assist and broke up another pass.
Harvell-Peel's recovery of a John Stephens fumble at the OSU 18 ignited the Cowboys defense. It was forced by Amen Ogbongbemiga after Stephens caught a short pass from Duggan.
"A.J. just made a great play,'' Harvell-Peel said. "I just happened to be around the ball so I jumped on it. Coach Knowles talks about 11 guys swarming the ball and how it can make a difference and it did on that play.''
TCU's next five series would end with a punt, interception, punt, punt and interception. OSU's Chuba Hubbard would score on cross country runs of 92 and 62 yards in between to give the Cowboys a 31-17 advantage.
"The guys made some big plays which gave us a chance,'' Gundy said of OSU's second consecutive conference win. The Cowboys also clinched a bowl berth for the 14th straight season.
OSU is off next Saturday and will host Kansas on Nov. 16.