Clutch Play Saves the Day Against Air Force

NORMAN, Okla.-- With OU leading by just three, a little less than three minutes remaining, and the Sooners facing a pivotal third-and-three, they had a decision to make.

Put the ball in quarterback Landry Jones' hands or give it to running back DeMarco Murray, who already had three touchdowns and carried it the first four plays of the drive to milk the clock.

They chose the first, and it paid off as Jones hit freshman wide receiver Kenny Stills over the middle of the field for a 10-yard, game-clinching completion, as OU held on for a 27-24 victory over the Air Force Falcons Saturday at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

"We got a couple first downs there and at [3rd-and-3], Kenny made a great play on it to pick up the first down," Jones said. "That really sealed it for us."

It wouldn't have been that way, but the Falcons made a furious fourth quarter comeback.

"We were getting worked," said OU head coach Bob Stoops. "They were executing better than we were executing. It's as simple as that."

First, Air Force running back Jared Tew cut into a 27-10 lead with a 5-yard touchdown run to make it 27-17 with 10:43 remaining in the contest.

The Falcons struck again with just less than four minutes left when wide receiver Kyle Halderman found daylight for a 15-yard touchdown run.

That set the stage for the biggest drive of the night, which culminated in that pivotal third down conversion.

"It shows we have heart," said slot receiver Ryan Broyles, who had a big night with 116 receiving yards, although he was held scoreless. "We have the athletes to do it. We just have to make it happen."

For the third straight game, the Sooners got off to a great start offensively, scoring a touchdown on the first possession of the game after losing the coin toss.

Running back DeMarco Murray put the Sooners on the scoreboard with a 1-yard touchdown run, capping off a 12-play, 60-yard drive spanning 4:47, to make it 7-0.

"We got the running game going very early," Murray said. "And that's what it takes sometimes when we have to be that physical."

But Air Force responded with a drive of its own, traveling 69 yards on nine plays in 4:33, although it stalled short of the end zone, and the Falcons cut the deficit to 7-3 behind a 20-yard field goal from place kicker Erik Soderberg with just more than five minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Teams then traded possessions until OU tacked on a field goal of its own by place kicker Jimmy Stevens midway through the second quarter, and that's where it would stay, 10-3 OU at the half.

The Falcons stormed out of the gates in the second half, though, marching 80 yards over 10 plays in 3:59 to tie it up at 10 apiece when quarterback Tim Jefferson took an option keeper 38 yards to the house.

"The first half I thought the guys were pretty good," said defensive coordinator Brent Venables. "In the second half, it was sloppy."

The Sooners responded though, and in a hurry.

Mossis Madu returned the kickoff 38 yards to Air Force's 41 yard line.

Jones then threw a strike under heavy pressure right over the middle of the field to slot receiver Ryan Broyles for 36 yards, and Murray did the rest, scampering in from five yards out a play later, and OU regained the lead at 17-10.

Minutes later, Stevens hit his second field goal of the day, a 41-yarder, to double up the Academy at the time.

And Murray picked up his third touchdown of the day at the 1:27 mark in the third quarter, this time in the passing game, as Jones hit him on a swing pass, and he went up the sideline and moved back to the middle of the field 17 yards for a touchdown and 17-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

"It was a good day for me," Murray said. "I prepared this week really hard."

That 17-point lead proved to be just enough to stave off Air Force's rally.

One of the biggest plays of the game came in the third quarter with OU leading 20-10 at time.

On a first down play midway through the third, Jefferson coughed the ball up after a 4-yard gain, and strong safety Javon Harris picked it up.

"There was a guy behind me, and somebody to the right-hand side of me where I had the ball," Jefferson said. "The ball just popped out, and that's ball security, something that we preach every single day."

It led to the Sooners' final score.

Murray led the way for the Sooners with those three touchdowns, two on the ground and one in the air, as he racked up 110 rushing yards on 26 carries and 38 receiving yards on five receptions.

Jones was 26-for-42 with 254 yards and a touchdown toss.

Jefferson led the way in rushing with 96 yards and a touchdown, and also was 8-for-14 for 107 passing yards.

OU now gets set to make its first road trip next Saturday in Cincinnati at a time to be announced.

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