The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 17, 2013

Trooper is big hit on Senior Day

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma State Highway Patrolman Brian Orr might have made the hit of the game in Oklahoma’s 48-10 victory over Iowa State Saturday.

Orr tackled and arrested a spectator who came onto the field between the third and fourth quarters and made quite an impression on the Sooner team.

“That, in my 41⁄2 years of football ... that might have been the most excited that I’ve ever been on the football field,’’ said OU senior center Gabe Ikard.

“There are certain moments you will remember on your senior day,” he said. “I will remember us rushing for 400 yards, but I will forget that we rushed for 400 yards before I forget that state trooper Orr just laying out that dude ... that’s kind of fantastic.’’

“Quite honestly, you can go two ways with that,’’ said Sooner quarterback Trevor Knight. “It can get your mind off the game or you can use that energy to keep moving forward. We used that energy to keep moving forward.’’

• Ikard, the only healthy senior captain for Saturday’s game, was awarded, along with injured fullback Trey Millard the Don Key Award before the game.

The award is presented to the senior (or seniors) who demonstrate all-round excellence in the classroom and on the field. Key was a three-year starter in the offensive line until he had a lung removed (cancer) removed.

“I was very honored to receive that award from coach (Bob) Stoops and the rest of the coaching staff,’’ said Ikard, a 4.0 (GPA) student. “It was a big deal to share it with Trey, who is a very close friend of mine and was very deserving of it as well.’’

Ikard said he felt bad for fellow senior lineman Austin Woods, a cancer survivor.

“He’s one of those guys who would have been very deserving,’’ Ikard said. “I’m very honored myself to represent this program the way it should be represented.’’

• Senior Day brings out the best in Jalen Saunders as a punt returner. A year ago, his 84-yard punt return was one of the turning points in a 51-48 overtime win over Oklahoma State.

His 91-yard punt return on Saturday — the third longest in school history — woke up a slumbering Sooners team. The Sooners, down 10-3 at the time (1:09 left in the half), went on to score 38 unanswered points after intermission.

“It was something to enjoy for my final home game,’’ Saunders said. “I felt it brought a lot of momentum to the offense and the defense. Things went downhill from there.’’

OU had not scored a special teams touchdown this season, something Saunders said he was determined to change.

“The coaches tell you if you’re behind the 10-yard line, just fair catch it or let it go,’’ he said. “I took two steps backward and the guys chasing me were 20 or 30 yards away. I just chanced it, saw that crease, and took off. The guys did a great job blocking and I did a great job seeing the crease.’’

• Stoops played down tying Barry Switzer as OU’s all-time winningest coach (157 wins) after the game, but it meant something to his players.

“It was awesome,’’ Knight said. “Coach Stoops is a great coach, and I love playing under him. That’s a big time for him. Everyone was excited for him.’’

OU kept a streak alive that has dated back to Stoops’ first year of coming back with a win after a loss (41-12 to Baylor). OU visits Kansas State on Saturday.

“We have got to do it again next week,’’ Stoops said. “In the end, hopefully it gives us some momentum, some spark. We have two tough road games to finish the year. If we can perform like this, or close to it, it’s going to give us a chance.’’

Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.