Another Close Game, No Problem

DALLAS -- Yet again the Sooners held on by a hair.

And yet again, for the second week in a row, it was sealed by a muffed punt.

With OU leading 28-20 and just more than a minute remaining, Texas punt returner Aaron Williams awaited a Tress Way punt, but he couldn't field it, and the Sooners picked it up, sealing a victory that was very much in doubt despite an 18-point fourth quarter lead.

"I'm just really proud of our football team to play the way they did, a well played football game against an excellent team of Texas," said OU head coach Bob Stoops. "My compliments to them again. I know that they are always, year in and year out, a good solid football team."

The Sooners were able to build an 18-point lead in the final quarter thanks to several Texas miscues, the biggest of which was a personal foul early in the fourth.

"One young man said he got pushed and he pushed back and we got a 15-yard penalty," said Texas head coach Mack Brown. "The first time the two hit each other, it was offsetting penalties, but those are excuses. They called them on us, and that's what it is."

After OU failed to convert a third-and-20, UT defensive lineman Jackson Jeffcoat shoved Sooner left tackle Donald Stephenson to the ground, extending the drive and running back DeMarco Murray picked up 37 yards on the next two plays, including a 17-yard reception followed up with a 20-yard touchdown run, seemingly putting the ‘Horns away.

But they weren't done yet.

They drove 54 yards in eight plays in just 2:53, and running back Cody Johnson capped off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 28-17.

UT added a field goal in the final three minutes after a huge 40-yard pass from Texas quarterback Garret Gilbert to wide receiver Malcolm Williams put them inside the 10, and that set up the final sequence.

Brown and the Longhorns elected to kick it deep, and it almost paid off when OU quarterback Landry Jones coughed the ball up on a second down play, but it ultimately rolled out of bounds, a huge break for the Sooners.

"Coming off the sideline, I was a little confused about the signal for the play," Jones said. "When I took the snap, I went the wrong way. It was just a mess up from the beginning. It was pretty lucky on our part, to get the ball out of bounds and not have a turnover."

That allowed OU to punt it away, which set up the surprising game-clenching fumble.

But that came with OU leading by 14 or more points three different times in the contest.

Murray put the Sooners on the scoreboard first when he sprinted around the left side, juked a man at the 5-yard line and scampered in from there for an 18-yard touchdown run and 7-0 Sooner lead.

OU then stoned Texas on its first possession with a three-and-out and got the ball back quickly to bury the Longhorns into a deep early hole minutes later.

Jones tossed a beautiful corner route to wide receiver Kenny Stills, who made a great catch for the 16-yard touchdown and 14-0 Sooner lead just less than 10 minutes into the game.

It looked as if the Sooners might get it back yet again when Texas was staring another possible three-and-out, but they completed a third-and-8 and one play later, running back D.J. Monroe blasted 60 yards for the score to cut the lead in half.

"Texas has a ton of terrific, explosive athletes," said OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables. "I thought it was an exceptional job of our guys swarming the ball. On three plays we didn't tackle well, and that made it close."

That was one of those plays.

After touchdowns on three of the game's first four drives, though, it slowed down, some.

The Sooners broke that trend once at the 7:19 mark of the second quarter when Jones recorded his second touchdown pass, this time a 2-yard toss to tight end James Hanna, and they led it 21-7.

They would take that lead into the half.

UT put the first points on the board in the second half, thanks to a fake punt on fourth-and-3 from its own 45-yard line.

But the Longhorns could only manage a field goal, after OU held in a goal-to-go situation, maintaining a double-digit lead.

"We have a different attitude this year about teams when they get down on our goal line," said linebacker Travis Lewis. "Last year guys would be tired and give up touchdowns. We want to make sure this year that if teams get down there, we are going to make them work for it."

That set the stage for one of the game's biggest plays.

On third-and-8 from OU's own 22-yard line, Texas knocked the ball loose from Jones in the backfield, and the Burnt Orange side of the field exploded, thinking the Longhorns had come up with a huge turnover.

However, UT was offsides before the play, extending the possession, though the Sooners couldn't capitalize and were forced to punt.

It did, though, allow OU to preserve possession and maintain its edge in the field position game.

The Sooners have now been out-gained in four of their five games, as UT had 373 to OU's 360 total yards.

Jones was 24-for-39 for 236 yards and two touchdowns, and Murray had 115 rushing yards on 25 carries and two scores.

OU (5-0, 1-0 Big 12) now moves into its idle week before facing Iowa State Oct. 16.

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