Sooners hold off Missouri Tigers with comeback win in shootout
Kingsley Burns, The Oklahoma Daily
The Sooner coaches and players could not quite put a finger on what exactly went wrong, but one word was continuously echoed after the 38-28 victory against Missouri on Saturday night: disappointing.
The Sooners won the opening coin toss and opted to take the ball to try to take an early lead. However, Missouri’s defense forced a quick three-and-out to give the Tigers the ball. Nine plays later, the Tigers had driven 76 yards and taken an early 7-0 lead on the No. 1 team in the nation.
Missouri continued to gain momentum when senior safety Kenji Jackson intercepted OU quarterback Landry Jones on the fifth play of OU’s next possession.
“For whatever reason, there just wasn’t quite as much energy or emotion,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “That’s disappointing in my eyes because I thought we were more mature than that.”
As shaky as the start may have been for Oklahoma, the team was eventually able to get something going on the offensive side of the ball.
On the next drive, Jones hooked up with senior wideout Dejuan Miller twice, and sophomore running back Brennan Clay carried for eight yards to get the Sooners in the red zone. After getting stuffed on third and goal, freshman Michael Hunnicutt kicked a 26-yard field goal to get OU on the board.
Missouri came right back at the OU defense. Three plays later, Mizzou sophomore quarterback James Franklin found sophomore receiver L’Damian Washington for a 45-yard touchdown.
The score was one of several from the game members of the Oklahoma defense said they would like to have back.
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables said the breakdowns were about poor preparation and poor execution by everyone involved.
“We had mental bust after mental bust, and it was a very easy game plan,” Venables said. “We practiced poorly this week, and we played poorly and coached poorly. You can’t let your guard down. You lose your edge — lose your respect for the game — and you’re going to get exposed. It’s very disappointing.”
With Oklahoma down, 14-3, and the defense showing no signs of life, it was up to the offense to keep Oklahoma in the game.
It was up to the task.
"It was a little shocking to be down 14-3 and just know that we can play ball," Jones said. "We knew we could move the ball on those guys and put a couple of drives together."
After a couple of solid gains by junior running back Dominique Whaley, Jones found senior receiver Ryan Broyles for his first score of the night on a 24-yard route to the end zone. Hunnicutt hit the point after to get OU back in the game, trailing 14-10.
The two teams started the second quarter by trading punts. Then, OU put together its longest drive of the game, marching 80 yards down the field. Broyles capped the drive with his second touchdown reception of the night.
The Sooners had their first lead of the game and suddenly began playing well enough to keep that lead.
“I don’t really know what it was,” Jones said. “We started shaky on both sides of the ball, but then we came back in the second quarter and really started playing some pretty good football.”
The better play started with the touchdown drive, and the defense kept it going by forcing Missouri into its first three-and-out of the night. The Sooners then took over on offense, and just over a minute later had another touchdown. Jones went 3-for-4 for 55 yards on the drive, and OU had a commanding lead for the first time all night.
After a missed field goal by Missouri, the two teams hit the lockers with OU on top, 24-14. From that point on, OU’s offense produced a lot of yards but did not have to.
The defense came out of the locker room strong and did not allow Missouri to find the end zone again until late in the fourth quarter.
After overcoming some early adversity, both the offense and defense stepped up to close the game out for Oklahoma. OU finished with over 500 yards of offense, and the defense kept Missouri scoreless for almost an entire half of football.
"I thought we had a better maturity level than this," senior linebacker Travis Lewis said. "But I'm happy it happened. We go back to work, starting tomorrow, and rebuild."
While everyone on the team acknowledged they did not have the game they were hoping for, they did find a few positives. Most importantly, the Sooners showed they are capable of coming back and finishing games.
“I feel like we’re kind of getting used to fighting through adversity,” senior Ryan Broyles said. “I feel like we have maturity. I feel like we can fight through a four-quarter game.”
Next on the schedule for the Sooners is Ball State. Oklahoma hosts the Cardinals at 6 p.m. Saturday.