NORMAN, Okla. – Oklahoma safety Steven Parker seemed caught by surprise by the question. Not sure why, considering what he had just done.
Parker was asked, “was that the best play he’s ever had in a football game?” His eyes got big, he thought it over, and his answer was a clear yes.
The sophomore safety played hero for the No. 7-ranked Sooners in helping OU (10-1, 7-1) survive a late charge by No. 18 TCU for a 30-29 victory against the Horned Frogs on Saturday night at Owen Field.
TCU quarterback Bram Kohlhausen has just led the Frogs on a 12-play, 76-yard drive to narrow the margin to 30-29 with 51 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Kohlhausen held up two fingers. Every player on TCU’s sideline held up two fingers. Screw the extra point and overtime, two and the win.
He rolled to his right toward the sideline, and Parker made his decision. He was going to be the hero or the goat. He leapt in the air, deflected the ball, and the celebration was on in Norman.
“That was a huge play,” head coach Bob Stoops said. “On the sideline, it looked like he was up there, like he could have dunked it on a 12-foot rim. He was way up there. It was a great play by him.”
It’s too early to compare it to Roy Williams’ Superman moment back in 2001 against Texas. Same can be said about Torrance Marshall’s pick-six at Texas A&M in 2000.
It’s too early, but it could be, it could be one of those plays OU fans are going to remember for a long time. Parker said TCU’s decision to go for the win didn’t surprise him, and he knew what he had to do.
“I had a hard decision between staying with my receiver – I knew the route was ‘double-drive seven’ – and coming to get the quarterback,” Parker said. “I kind of played in between and tried to play dummy to it and just timed my jump right.
“Basically, it was a key decision. It was either let him run it in and they get the two-point conversion or I have to take a chance. I took my chance and I’m glad I did.”
TCU (9-2, 6-2) outgained OU 180-16 in total yards in the fourth quarter. Outscored the Sooners 16-0 and forced its only turnover of the game in a furious rally.
But in November, it’s not about style points – solely winning. On a day when two more unbeatens bit the dust in Ohio State and Oklahoma State, the all-important W was the only thing that mattered on senior night.
“If you look around the country every week, for everyone, is it ever perfect?” Stoops said. “It’s tough. We’ve had a lot of excellent games, and we’re due for one that maybe isn’t. When you cannot be at your best and win, it’s always a positive against a ranked team.”
The Sooners weren’t at their best as they lost their heart and soul. Stoops said quarterback Baker Mayfield complained of having a headache at halftime, a clear concussion symptom.
Before Mayfield was out, he had passed for 127 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 42 yards as OU took what felt like a pretty commanding 23-7 lead into halftime.
With Trevor Knight at the helm, the offense simply couldn’t get rolling outside of a mammoth 72-yard touchdown run by Samaje Perine, who rushed for 188 yards on the night.
TCU clawed its way back into the game despite committing four turnovers as Zack Sanchez had two interceptions and also sealed the deal once and for all by recovering the onside kick after Parker’s deflection.
Perine was unable to address the media because of an ankle sprain that he suffered in the third quarter. Mayfield was unable to address the media because of his concussion symptoms.
OU was able to find a way to persevere for one game. Now it’s onto Bedlam. All that is at stake is the Big 12 conference championship and perhaps a chance to position itself into the four-team college football playoff.
So yea, maybe Parker’s play is going to be remembered.