Special teams, defense save OU

Sooners win Red River Showdown behind two non-offensive touchdowns

DALLAS – Oklahoma somehow survived one of the worst offensive halves in school history Saturday.

Oklahoma scored its fifth defensive touchdown in four games against Texas, Alex Ross became the first Sooner to score two kick-off returns in seven years, and the Sooners managed an 31-26 victory despite recording just 29 yards and one first down in the first half at the Cotton Bowl.

Mired in mediocrity and dominated in every offensive category in the first half, No. 11 Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) somehow managed to extend a four-point lead, hold off a Texas rally in the second half and win or the fourth time in five games in the Red River Showdown.

Ross became the first Oklahoma player to return a kick-off for a touchdown against Texas while matching DeMarco Murray’s 2007 mark of two return touchdowns. Zack Sanchez recorded his seventh interceptions in nine games and his second interception touchdown of his career as the Oklahoma defense and special teams combined for twice as many touchdowns as the Sooners’ offense had first downs in the first half.

With both teams coming off a loss or the first time since 2007, it looked as though Oklahoma would lose back-to-back games for the first time since 1999.

Instead, the Sooners’ defense finally had a chance to breathe. Texas (2-4, 1-3) had nearly triple the time of possession as Oklahoma in the first half and ran more than three times as many plays.

Texas also had 278 yards of offense in the first half.

The Longhorns, who have now lost six straight to teams ranked in the Top 25, didn’t managed much in the second half. Oklahoma, which hasn’t given up a rushing touchdown to Texas in four games, allowed just two first downs during the first five drives of the second half as Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes was finally slowed down. Swoopes finished 26-for-43 and 334 yards but had only 162 yards in the second half, completing 13 passes on 23 attempts. Playing the best game of his career, Swoopes also rushed for 50 yards. Even with the reversal of fortunes, Oklahoma’s offense didn’t do much in the second half. Oklahoma finished the game with just 232 total yards and didn’t have a third-down conversion until the final drive of the game with less than four minutes remaining.

The root of the struggle was Trevor Knight, who went 12-for-20 for 129 yards, as the Longhorns’ top ranked pass defense shined.


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