Sugar Bowl film review: Second half

Alabama made a surge, but the Sooners were up to the task and these plays help illustrate how it was done.

Every play matters but some stick out more than others. Each week Sooners Illustrated will look at the five plays that stood out in Oklahoma's performance. This week it's the second half of OU's 45-31 win against Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Play No. 1: Henry makes his mark

Every year it feels like Alabama's backup running back might even be better than its starter. That's not to say T.J. Yeldon is a slouch, but Thursday was a showcase night for Derrick Henry.

Needing a spark, Henry did just that for the Crimson Tide. Alabama dominated the third quarter but only managed seven points coming on Henry's 43-yard run.

The Sooners had no answer for Henry, who also scored on a 61-yard reception in the fourth quarter. But in a quarter where OU only had 28 yards, it was crucial to still be ahead 31-24.

Play No. 2: Green with the reception

OU only managed one first down in the third quarter that wasn't from a penalty but it was a huge one. An Alabama punt pinned OU down at the one yard line.

Again, not playing conservative, the Sooners came out throwing. Trevor Knight hit seldom used tight end Brannon Green for a 13-yard gain on the sideline. It didn't amount to much as OU had to punt a few plays later, but it gave punter Jed Barnett more breathing room to get it off.

It was Green's only reception of the game, but it came at a pivotal point in the game.

Play No. 3: Knight finds Shepard for the score

The OU offense was dormant in the third quarter but woke up again in the fourth quarter. A huge 34-yard reception by LaColtan Bester got things going again, and then it was time for Knight to make another great play.

With second-and-goal, Knight rolled right but couldn't find anybody. Instead of panicking, he let the play develop knowing a defensive lineman was chasing him. Eventually he was able to set his feet and throw across his body to Sterling Shepard in the end zone, who did a great job of coming back to the ball for the score.

Knight threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns, while Shepard also ran for a score as his versatility came in handy for the Sooners all night.

Play No. 4: Knight and Clay connect for first down

It was a 38-31 lead for OU with six minutes left. Alabama had all three of its timeouts left and the Sooners faced a third-and-nine at its 13 yard line.

OU running back Brennan Clay was battered and bruised all night but came up with a huge 10-yard reception to keep the drive going.

And the drive went a long way. OU went 42 yards on 11 plays and took 5:26 off the clock. The Tide used all three of their timeouts and took over at their 18 yard line with 56 seconds left.

Play No. 5: Striker, Grissom seal the deal

It could have been a magical moment for Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron in leading a last-minute drive to tie the game.

Instead it was one final statement by the OU defense, in particular Geneo Grissom and Eric Striker. On the first play, Striker recorded his third sack of the game, forced a fumble and Grissom recovered it and took it for a touchdown.

Striker had three sacks on the night, while Grissom had two and two fumble recoveries. The Sooners were assessed two celebration penalties, but it didn't matter. It was game, set, match for OU in a remarkable showing against Alabama to prove experts wrong.


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