The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 27, 2013

Ikard; OU shows character in comeback

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

NORMAN, Okla. — Resilience was an often-used word in the Big Red Room in interviews following Oklahoma’s 38-30 victory over previously unbeaten Texas Tech Saturday.

The No. 10-ranked Red Raiders appeared to have taken control of the game after scoring 17 unanswered points in a 6:29 span to turn a 21-7 deficit into a 24-21 lead, but OU answered with back-to-back touchdowns, the second set up by Gabe Lynn’s interception as the Sooners raised their record to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in conference, setting up a showdown with unbeaten Baylor on Nov. 7.

“We showed a lot of character,’’ said OU center Gabe Ikard. “There’s a lot of ups and downs in a football game and you’re only as good as your next series. When things go wrong, you make your adjustments and keep playing football. I’m really happy how the offense and defense grind it out. We weathered the storm, got back in the lead and finished the game out.’’

Lynn said the Sooner defense didn’t panic after the Red Raiders regained the lead.

“We were getting beat and we were tired, but we stuck with it,’’ he said. “We knew they were going to make some plays, but we also made some plays. That was huge.’’

Lynn’s interception came off a tipped pass. Aaron Colvin stopped another drive with a diving interception at the OU two-yard line in the first quarter.

“We knew we had to get turnovers,’’ Lynn said. “We were able to capitalize on it pretty good.’’

“It’s tough playing a team like this,’’ Colvin said, “but at the same time, we have been playing against  this offense for four years, so we have grown accustomed to it. It all comes down to your preparation.’’

The Sooners were physical in the second half offensively. They threw only one pass on an 11-play, 86-yard scoring drive to open the half. They only threw twice in driving from their own 28 to the Tech 14 to set up a 37-yard Michael Hunnicutt field goal to make it 38-30.

“Our game plan was to run straight-ahead at them,’’ Ikard said. “We had a size advantage and we took advantage of it to pick up some good chunks of yardage.’’

OU’s running back depth showed.

Roy Finch had 55 yards on eight carries in the fourth quarter after not having a carry the first three. Brennan Clay had 24 yards on five carries in the fourth quarter. Damien Williams had 97 yards on 19 carries for the game. He carried it only twice in the fourth.

“That’s why you need to have two or three backs,’’ said OU head coach Bob Stoops. “Everybody wants you to have only one, but they run hard. They need rest. They complement each other well.’’

The Sooners had their usual slow start with only 58 yards in trailing 7-0 after the first period. OU had 188 yards the second quarter, scoring on touchdown passes of 15 and 76 yards from Blake Bell to Jalen Saunders.

“I would rather not start off slow like that,’’ Stoops said, “but the same plays that were working in the second and third periods were also being called in the first quarter. We were blocking cleaner and executing better.’’

The Sooners played most of the game with two freshmen linebackers — Dominque Alexander and Jordan Evans — because of injuries. Evans, making his first significant appearance, was credited with five solo and three assisted tackles and broke up a pass.

Alexander, who has been starting in the place of the injured Corey Nelson, had one solo and three assisted stops.

“We have had some obstacles, but we have to keep fighting no matter who is out there,’’ Lynn said. “I was very proud of those two young guys. Jordan just got thrown out there, but he made some big hits and was able to make some plays that were game-changers.’’

Bell was 14 of 22 passing for 249 yards, including the two scores to Saunders, who had six receptions for 156 yards and two scores. He was pleased with the consistency of the offense, which included a season-long drive of 97 yards.

“I don’t listen to the outside noises,’’ Bell said about criticism he’s received the last three games (against TCU, Texas and Kansas). “All I can do is to be me and come here every day to get better. My teammates are doing the same thing. We’re moving in the right direction.’’

“Blake and the receivers made some crucial third-down plays,’’ Stoops said. “He’s not always as consistent as he needs to be, but when he is off, it’s not always him.’’