By ARNE GREEN
Special to The HDN
MANHATTAN -- Travis Britz's first reaction after tying the Kansas State career record for blocked kicks was one of relief.
"At the time I was probably thinking, 'Yes, I'm off the field.' But looking back, it was a special moment," Britz said.
Indeed it was.
Not only did the fourth-quarter blocked extra point get an overworked K-State defense off the field, but also preserved a one-point lead that proved to be the difference in a 31-30 Wildcat upset of the No. 11-ranked Sooners.
"I do get excited," Britz said. "It's something that I should be doing every time I get a chance, so it's something that's really neat and special."
The 6-foot-4, 293-pound Britz is a second-year starter at defensive tackle for the Wildcats, but last year he also carved out a niche as a kick-blocking specialist as well. He had four of them as a sophomore, though none were as monumental as the one against an OU team that seldom loses at home.
With that victory, K-State improved to 5-1 overall and took over first place in the Big 12 at 3-0 while climbing three spots to No. 11 in the national rankings. The Wildcats play host to Texas at 11 a.m. Saturday.
"He just makes it important to himself and he practices every day at practice to block kicks," senior linebacker Jonathan Truman said of Britz. "He's got his technique and he also has the mindset that at any point he can get through and he's going to block it.
"A lot of people try to take extra points and field goals for granted, thinking the kicker's going to put it through every time. Travis is relentless in that he tries to get through that line and get a hand on the ball."
The block in the Oklahoma game gave Britz five for his career, tying Raphael Guidry, who had all five of his as a senior in 2011. Though he works at it regularly, Britz said it's as much about desire as anything.
"It's an attitude," he said. "You can't give up.
"Most guys give up on that play. It's something that you have to be trying for and take it as a chance to help the team out."
Though he plays a full-time role on defense -- he was a backup as a true freshman in 2012 before starting all 13 games last year -- Britz is more than willing to put in the time on special teams.
"It's an obligation," he said. "Somebody's going to have to do it and I'm fine with taking those snaps as long as it helps the team."
Britz approaches his specialty much as he does playing defensive tackle.
"It's just like another pass rush," he said. "You've got to work your hips into the hole and get your hands up.
"It's just like another defensive play if you look at it. It's something you can practice at if you're willing to, and with enough time and effort and watching film, you can get it done."
K-State coach Bill Snyder said Britz's blocks are no accident.
"He takes a lot of pride in that," Snyder said. "That's important to him and he works very diligently at trying to execute the fundamentals and the techniques to do some of those things."
Cornerback Morgan Burns was on the field for the play, which came after OU scored what could have been the tying touchdown with 10:35 left.
"Usually PATs just don't get blocked, and I came off the edge and looked back and saw Travis had blocked it," Burns said. "I was like, 'I can't believe he just blocked it.'
"I think at that point in the game, I realized how crucial that was, especially at the end of the game when we ended up winning by one point. That was a huge play and showed special teams can make an impact in the game."
In addition to blocking kicks, Britz has been an anchor for K-State on the interior line. His 14 tackles -- two for losses with a sack -- rank 10th on the team and second only to end Ryan Mueller among linemen.
"He just takes his preparation very seriously and he cares a lot about his teammates," Truman said. "Just being out there together, he'll come up to me and (ask) how I'm doing and if the offensive linemen are coming up on me too fast and should he fight the double-team harder.
"That's huge for us. He makes the linebacker job a lot easier with him getting a good push."
Britz said his biggest strides this season have come as a pass rusher up the middle, but that he's far from satisfied.
"My main goal was just to be the best player I can be and I'm not there yet," he said. "It's just being the best teammate and best player I can be.
"It takes time to do that, and I believe with time we can do it."