The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 25, 2012

Clay 'blessed' to be OU hero

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

NORMAN — — Landry Jones threw for 500 yards and three touchdowns.

Justin Brown tied an Oklahoma single game record with 15 receptions and had a career-high 146 yards in receiving.

Jalen Saunders had an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown.

But it was Brennan Clay who was being mobbed by teammates after his 18-yard scoring run in overtime gave the Sooners a 51-48 thriller over arch-rival Oklahoma State Saturday.

“Just like I said earlier, give the glory to God,’’ said Clay, who had been held to 41 yards on 12 carries in regulation.

 “He’s just blessed me so much in every opportunity. The O-line did a great job getting their blocks, shout-out to Gabe Ikard and Bronson (guard Irwin) and Adam (guard Shead). They hit their guy and parted the way, and I was able to hit the hole and made a few guys miss and get in the end zone.’’

Fullback Trey Millard knocked out a  defensive end on a “big collision.’’ Ikard got the nose guard. Clay did the rest.

“I remember No. 8 (Daytawion Lowe) coming down on me and another guy was on the left,’’ Clay said. “I was able to run through some trash and got in the end zone.’’

Once he crossed the goal-line, he was mobbed by teammates. The Sooners stayed on the field for several minutes after the game to soak in the atmosphere with celebrating OU fans.

“I appreciated being able to celebrate with my teammates,’’ Clay said. “This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. What else can I say?’’

Clay credited being able to shake a few tackles to running backs coach Cale Gundy and the “blaster,’’ a machine which stimulates a runner being hit.

“I owe it all to the blaster,’’ Clay said with a smile. “Gundy will like that one. He does a great job getting us prepared with that blaster. We’re able to run through trash. I knew one guy ripped across my thigh, I ran through his arm, I took one to the shoulder, and another guy came for my leg. I was able to keep my head up and my eyes up and get to that end zone.’’

Clay remembered some game-winning touchdowns in high school in the San Diego, Calif., area, but those weren’t in front of 85,824 and a national television audience in the Bedlam Series.

“I’m just enjoying taking it all in,’’ he said. “It’s a blessing. This is a much larger experience.’’

Especially since he felt “embarrassed’’ by the Cowboys’ 44-10 victory last season in Stillwater. He may have grown up in California, but he knows Bedlam.

“I know how a big game this is,’’ he said. “It’s going to continue to be that way. We want to come out and get this victory and go on to win the Big 12.’’

The Sooners are tied with Kansas State for the conference lead at 7-1. If OU beats TCU Saturday and K-State loses to Texas, the Sooners are champions. If K-State wins, the Wildcats will be the champs since they beat OU 24-19 in September.

Clay’s touchdown gave the Sooners their only lead of the game. OU was having to play catch up after the Cowboys took an early 14-0 lead.

OU had to march 86 yards on 17 carries just to tie the game on a four-yard Blake Bell run with four seconds remaining.

“We’re strong,’’ Clay said. “We have gone through adversity. We know this offense is very potent and can score anywhere on the field. We just have to play 60 minutes. In this case, we played more than that. We didn’t panic. We just went out and got the job done.’’

Clay acknowledged OU might have worn down the Cowboy defense at the end.

“Of course, I was wearing down, too,’’ he said. “We play at such a fast tempo. We knew if we stayed with it, we would bust one sooner or later. We ran a lot of plays (103). That’s part of our offense; that’s what makes us elite.’’

The Sooners lost the K-State and Notre Dame games in the fourth quarter, but have come back to win their last two games with miracle comebacks in the final seconds.

“It’s special,’’ Clay said. “You have to credit the defense at the end for forcing them to kick a field goal in overtime. You have to give a lot of credit to the OSU offense. Anybody can score in this Big 12 league.

“The last few weeks have been like a roller coaster. I’m healthy and I’ve been blessed to do what I have done. Coach (offensive coordinator Josh) Heupel has been doing a great job calling plays. The line has been doing a great job. Give them all the credit.’’

Handling some adversity is nothing new for Clay, who battled injuries his first two seasons with the Sooners.

He has rushed for 464 yards and six touchdowns this season so far. Clay had rushed for 401 yards and one touchdown his first two years.

“I knew if I kept on coming and kept working hard, I would be OK,’’ he said. “Good things happen to those who wait. There have been so many good plays this year, but to finish in Bedlam is a great experience.’’

His 13 carries against OSU was his second-most of the season. Starter Damien Williams had only 11 yards on seven carries.

“I have no idea,’’ said Clay when asked if he was the “hot’’ back Saturday. “Coach Gundy chooses the backs rotation. It is what it is, I just finish it off.’’

Kenny Stills, Clay’s roommate and fellow San Diego native, had caught the winning touchdown against West Virginia. The two shared a special moment after the game.

“He was telling me how much he loved me and I told him I loved him, too, and thank him for being there for me,’’ Clay said.

He joked safety Tony Jefferson, the other of the San Diego trio, “was due’’ to make the game-winning play against TCU next Saturday.

He said he was fueled by the crowd “who had our backs,’’ and by Senior Day.

“I told every senior I saw, ‘that’s for you,’” Clay said. “There’s no other way to send them out, especially against OSU.’’

And special thought for Jones.

“He’s a strong-willed and determined,’’ Clay said. “I’m proud of him sticking with us and coming back this year. Things happen that way.’’

The OU-TCU game will kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday and will be shown on ESPN.