NORMAN – As Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine walked the sideline early in the second half, he fought through a heavy limp and tried to keep weight off his left ankle. Just a few minutes earlier, Perine hopped on one foot from the edge of the Oklahoma sideline to the Sooners’ bench.
Teammates and members of medical staff surrounded Perine – two- and even three-deep – as the doctors tended to him.
Perine watched from the sideline as TCU drove down the field to pull within 10 points and as the Sooners’ offense stalled the next two drives – ending in a missed field goal and three-and-out. He could barely walk even after doctors re-wrapped his right ankle.
Two drives later, Perine limped – ever so slightly – into the end zone after a 72-yard touchdown run.
“Samaje is one of those guys that’s going to give you big plays,” Oklahoma receiver Sterling Shepard said. “That’s all he knows.”
Perine wasn’t made available after the game. He was busy having his ankle checked out. Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker compared his efforts to a Kamikaze pilot – willing to give everything he could to the team.
“That was big,” Striker said. “He fought through the pain. He’s that type of warrior. . . . You see that as a warrior. You’ve got to take your hats off to them.”
Oklahoma needed every bit that Perine could give them, and every big play that Shepard could turn in on his final game at Memorial Stadium. After the Sooners took a 17-point lead with a little less than eight minutes to go in the third quarter, they managed just six plays of five yards or more.
All six were on the legs of Perine or Shepard.
Shepard finished with eight catches for 111 yards and one touchdown. The rest of the team had six catches for 92 yards and one touchdown. Perine rushed for 188 yards and one touchdown. The rest of the team rushed for 145 yards on five more carries.
Oklahoma’s season survived another week because of its two best offensive weapons, both of whom were banged up at some point against TCU.
“Workhorses: That’s why they’re out there on the field,” Oklahoma back-up quarterback Trevor Knight said. “Big-time players do make big-time plays in big-time moments, and they did. They came in and they got the job done. Regardless of how you analyze it – you look at this play or that play – it doesn’t matter. We came out with more points than the other team.”
The offense didn’t do much after Knight took over in the second half after Baker Mayfield was ruled out because of a concussion. What it did do was all thanks to Shepard and Perine.
Shepard took a quick pass just before the third quarter expired for a 32-yard gain. A few more seconds ticked off the clock with Oklahoma ahead by 17.
As TCU rallied, every second mattered in the fourth quarter. Shepard made a tackler miss to convert on third down and watch a few more seconds fall off the clock before TCU pulled back within 10. It was the last first down Oklahoma would pick up.
“He always makes plays, he finds ways to make plays in whatever capacity that he can,” Oklahoma center Ty Darlington said.
Shepard made just enough plays to help Oklahoma stave off an upset. Perine gave just enough of his body to keep the Sooners on track for the Big 12 Championship.
It just had to be done.
“He’s going to come in and get it done when he needs to get it done,” Knight said.
Oklahoma needed him to get it done Saturday night.