NORMAN – In a game that was a slog from beginning to end, the Sooners held their only lead as the clock hit zeroes in the fourth quarter, as Gabe Brkic’s 30-yard field goal on the final play gave Oklahoma a 16-13 Big 12-opening win Saturday night in Norman. The walk-off winner was believed to have been the first final play walk-off field goal in 127 years of Sooner football history.
The Sooner offense continued to struggle, mostly due to poor offensive line play, it seemed. That didn’t stop the student section and others from roundly booing the Sooner offense and/or Spencer Rattler. While Rattler was certainly uneven, he was sacked four times on the night and the Sooner running game was stifled, limiting his options. Rattler ended up with a reasonable stat line, going 26-36 for 256 yards, one TD, and one pick. Mike Woods led all receivers with eight catches for 86 yards. Mario Williams added four for 34, Eric Gray had three for 52, Jadon Haselwood had three for 21, Drake Stoops had three for 15, and Marvin Mims had two for 25. Brayden Willis, Jeremiah Hall, and Austin Stogner each had a single catch, with Stogner’s going for the Sooners’ only TD of the night.
The Sooner running attack was stuffed all night by a stout Mountaineer defense. Gray led the Sooners with 38 yards on 12 carries. Kennedy Brooks added five for 17, while Hall and Williams each carried once for a single yard. Rattler tallied 17 yards on nine carries on the night.
The game started out strangely like last week’s game against Nebraska, with both teams embarking on long scoring marches. The Sooners won the toss and deferred, and WVU took the ball to start the game. A 17-play, 75-yard TD drive took over nine minutes off the clock and left the Sooners in a 7-0 hole with only 5:53 to play in the first quarter.
OU answered with a TD drive of their own. The big play was a 38-yard catch and run from Gray on fourth and four from the WVU 46 that gave the Sooners first and goal at the Mountaineer eight. Three plays later, Rattler hit Stogner for the score, and it was 7-7 with 2:46 to play in the first quarter. Neither team would find the end zone the rest of the night.
Delarrin Turner-Yell picked off a Jarrett Doege pass on the ensuing WVU possession, but the Sooners could do nothing with it and had to punt. That started a series of exchanged punts interrupted only by Rattler being picked off at the WVU 32 with 5:55 to play in the first half. After another exchange of punts, WVU knocked through a 25-yard field goal on the final play of the half to make it 10-7 at halftime.
Coming out of the locker room, the Sooners took the ball and sparked by a 35-yard pass from Rattler to Woods, were quickly in business in WVU territory. OU would move to first and goal at the six, but a false start penalty pushed them back and they were unable to convert. Brkic’s second field goal of the day made it 10-10 with 11:26 to play in the third quarter. WVU would answer back with an 11-play, 68-yard field goal drive to retake the lead at 13-10 with 5:21 to play in the third quarter.
The Sooners went for it on fourth and one from the WVU 49 on their ensuing possession and were stoned at the line, turning it over on downs to the Mountaineers. The Sooner defense forced a three-and-out and the Sooners took over on their 20, then embarked on a long scoring drive that covered 16 plays, 62 yards, and took 8:11 off the clock. The Sooners moved to a first down at the WVU 18, but an eight-yard first down run by Brooks was called back by a holding penalty that derailed the drive. A sack on the next play compounded the problem, and three plays later Brkic tied the game at 13 from 35 yards out with 8:52 to play.
A couple of pass plays and a roughing the passer flag sent WVU to a first down at the Sooner 31 on the ensuing possession. However, two plays later, Doege wasn’t ready for the snap, and it shot past him. He dove on the ball on the WVU 46, taking the Mountaineers out of field goal range. WVU was forced to punt, and the Sooners took over on their own eight with 3:39 to play in the game.
Rattler hit Mims on first down for 13 yards, then Gray ran for seven, Willis caught a pass for nine, and Gray caught one for four and another for 10 to move the ball to the WVU 49. Two plays later, Rattler rolled right and hit Stoops for 14 to the WVU 34. After Woods caught one for four, WVU was offside and Gray ran for eight, setting up the Sooners with a first down at the WVU17. A face mask penalty three plays later made it first and goal at the eight.
Rattler ran to the middle of the field and fell, setting up the ball to Brkic’s liking. After a time out with two seconds to play in the game, Brkic came on and calmly drilled it through from 30 yards out to make the final score 16-13 Sooners.
In a season where we expected our defense to finally catch up to our offense, our defense is carrying a struggling offense. If the Sooners are to get back to their prolific offensive ways, this coming Saturday would be a good time, as they hit the road for the first time this season. OU will face Kansas State and their two-game winning streak in the series in Manhattan Saturday afternoon at 2:30. See you there.