Oklahoma survives overtime thriller against Oklahoma State

By James Corley

Oklahoma survives overtime thriller against Oklahoma State

NORMAN — The ball fell innocently to the turf, well short of freshman wide receiver Sterling Shepard’s hands. The Sooners failed to convert a crucial fourth down they desperately needed.

Turnover on downs.

Oklahoma State had already scored more points — 45 — than it had in a Bedlam game since 1945, and the Cowboys had the ball with 7:07 left and a touchdown’s lead against the Sooners.

All Oklahoma State had to do was earn a few first downs and run the ball to burn time off the clock. The Cowboys had rushed effectively against the Sooners all night, totaling 202 net yards to push the rushing total allowed by the Sooners to 912 in just three games.

First down.

OSU junior running back Joseph Randle, who had been electric with 114 yards and four touchdowns, was stuffed up the middle for a one-yard loss.

Second down.

Junior quarterback Clint Chelf, who had passed for 253 yards and rushed for 81 more, looked for freshman receiver Blake Webb on an out route but missed.

Third down.

The whole stadium was on the edge of going crazy. If OU held just one more time, the Sooners would get another shot to tie the game. Oklahoma had never led the contest after falling behind, 14-3, in the first quarter but had forced ties at 17 and 38 points.

On third and long, Chelf saw OU sophomore Julian Wilson charging at him and released the ball deep downfield for sophomore wide receiver Josh Stewart.

Incomplete. Fourth down.

The Pokes burned less than a minute off the clock and faced punting back to junior Jalen Saunders, who just moments before had returned one 81 yards for a touchdown. But senior Quinn Sharp booted it 58 yards and coverage held, forcing the Sooners to start the possession at their own 14-yard line.

Oklahoma had broken a slew of school records on offense — including receivers with 100-plus yards (three) and receivers with 10-plus receptions (two) — and was approaching new records for passing completions and passing attempts. However, OU had struggled to run the ball effectively and maintain drives all the way to the end zone.

But senior quarterback Landry Jones drove the Sooners down the field, completing 7-of-9 passes to get inside the Oklahoma State 30-yard line. The Sooners hadn’t had much luck inside the 30, letting several drives stall and settling for field goals (with one miss). This time — down, 45-38 — OU had to have a touchdown.

The Cowboys hadn’t allowed an offensive touchdown since the first half, holding OU to a pair of field goals and Saunders’ punt-return score.

Oklahoma inched its way into the red zone and called a timeout with 47 seconds left. The sell-out crowd of 85,824 wondered if the Sooners had enough left in the tank to pull off a second-straight comeback win after surviving a 50-49 scare in Morgantown seven days prior.

Jones found senior Justin Brown for an eight-yard gain to advance to the OSU 4-yard line, but his next to Shepard hit the turf. Jones, who threw 71 times for 500 yards and three touchdowns, came out and sophomore Blake Bell came in.

The Sooners hadn’t used Bell as much as previous weeks, opting to leave in Jones for short-yardage situations several times throughout the game, and the “Belldozer” was a little shaken after causing a crucial fumble inside the red zone the previous quarter, when OU only trailed by four.

Yet Bell trotted out. On fourth down with 10 seconds to go, a yard to gain and the game on the line, Bell swept around the left side. OSU junior linebacker Caleb Lavey came shooting through the line and dove at Bell’s legs. The burly 254-pounder brushed off the tackle and lunged for the end zone.

Touchdown. Bedlam would go to overtime for the first time in history.

The Sooners won the toss and elected to defend. OSU quickly made its way from the 25-yard line to the 13 before it hit a wall. Chelf missed Stewart before finding him for a four-yard gain. Nine yards from the end zone, Chelf’s pass to junior Blake Jackson was denied, and the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal.

48-45, Oklahoma State.

Junior fullback Trey Millard barreled forward for a seven-yard gain to open the Sooners’ overtime possession. A field goal would force another overtime period; a touchdown would end the game.

Prior to Bell’s rumble to force overtime, Oklahoma had only rushed 27 times for a meager 81 yards, but — as co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said after the game — the Sooners wanted to punch it in on the ground.

Jones got the snap, swiveled and handed it to Brennan Clay. The junior running back had been used only sparingly this season, not eclipsing 200 yards until filling in for injured starter Damien Williams against Iowa State.

Clay covered the ball with his arms and started forward, seeing the walls start to close around him as Oklahoma State linemen fought to get around blocks and tear him apart. Clay burst through the line, wriggling through pairs of 300-pounders fighting like huge elk locking antlers, and saw daylight.

He collided with OSU junior safety Daytawion Lowe, who had a full head of steam after recognizing the run early, but bounced off the tackle.

He had one man to beat — junior safety Shamiel Gary. Gary lunged at Clay’s legs, too far behind the back to tackle him properly but close enough that a well-timed assault would entangle and drop the California native short of the goal line.

At the last second, Clay changed direction and strayed right, leaving Gary to grasp desperately at cleats as Clay skipped into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

Clay threw the ball in the air as his teammates stormed the field. Junior wide receiver Kenny Stills, who caught the game-winner against West Virginia the week before, sprinted straight for Clay, one of his best friends. He screamed encouragement at his teammate as more Sooners piled into the end-zone huddle, jumping around as fireworks erupted from the stadium’s rim and the crowd lost its mind.

With the 51-48 stunning win, Oklahoma stayed in the hunt for a Big 12 title and sent its seniors out with a final victory on Owen Field.

Oklahoma State had put together one of its best games in school history against its bitter rival, yet all the Cowboys could do was walk off the field amid the biggest party in the state of Oklahoma — and it wasn’t for them.

Bedlam indeed.

Read more here: http://oudaily.com/news/2012/nov/24/bedlam2012/
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