With the Sooners trailing the Vols 17-3 in the third quarter, there were brief signs of life to suggest not turning the channel just yet for OU fans.
Anatomy of a Comeback
Parker with sack…but not fumble
It’s stating the obvious to say the OU defense made sure the Sooners were still in contention. But by the middle of third quarter, it was no longer just about making stops.
Parker’s sack was the first of a few plays toward the latter half of the game where the defense was starting to make things happen instead of just making sure things didn’t happen.
It was 2nd-and-13 from OU’s 39 when Parker and Striker converged for a sack on Joshua Dobbs. It sure looked like it was a fumble and a return TD for Parker, but the referees blew the play dead.
Mayfield keeps the play alive again and again
Quarterback Baker Mayfield’s stats through the third quarter didn’t turn any heads, but it sure felt like he played better than his numbers.
In the fourth quarter, it all came together. Facing a 3rd-and-eight at the OU 34 yard line, Mayfield could have been brought down two or three times but managed to get out of the jam each time.
The pass itself wasn’t complete, but the Vols were called for defensive holding, which is an automatic first down.
Mayfield keeps the play alive and finds Perine
The play call seemed like a smart one for OU on 3rd-and-goal from the 2 yard line. Get Perine open on some misdirection and find him in the end zone.
Except the Vols had the play defended well. As Mayfield kept rolling, he decided he could thread the needle to Perine for the 2-yard touchdown. It was OU’s first touchdown of the game and made it 17-10 with 8:12 left in the fourth quarter.
The drive itself was the start of a magical finish as OU went 80 yards in 14 plays.
Shepard brings it home in the corner
OU’s final drive of the fourth quarter started with 6:06 left. By the time Mayfield found senior wide receiver Sterling Shepard in the corner of the end zone, there were only 40 seconds left.
Shepard said after the game he was pretty disappointed with his performance up until that point. It was a great throw by Mayfield toward the back corner of the end zone, and Shepard does what he always does, which is make a competitive play for the ball.
He clearly had two feet in the bounds, and it was game on once again at Neyland Stadium.
Perine paves the way
Tennessee was able to rally itself in the first overtime to once again take the lead at 24-17. Eventually it would come down to one play as OU faced a 4th-and-goal at the 1 yard line.
It was going to be Mayfield or Samaje Perine. It was a fake to Perine, and Perine came right back to deliver the huge blow and open up the hole for Mayfield to reach the end zone with no problems.
Shepard goes Superman
As the game progressed, Shepard seemed to only get stronger and became the No. 1 target for Mayfield when it mattered most.
On a 3rd-and-three from the Tennessee 18 yard line, Mayfield found Shepard one more time. The first down was a sure thing, but Shepard was able to turn it up field and essentially dive ala Superman for the end zone and give OU its first lead of the game.
Sanchez closes the show
Sanchez delivered with the interception that closed out a wild, classic game for the Sooners.