Sooners Hang On, Secure Win No. 800

NORMAN, Okla.-- Nobody said adding milestone victories to a program's history has to be easy.

And it definitely wasn't Saturday night, as the seventh ranked Sooners barely squeaked out win No. 800 over a huge underdog in the Utah State Aggies by a final score of 31-24.

In fact, with just a little bit more than four minutes to go in the game, the Aggies had the Sooners on their heels and all of Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on its feet, down just a touchdown, but that's how it would stand as OU picked off a pass on third-and-10, was able to run the clock out and did, in fact, secure the milestone victory.

"The 800th win here at Oklahoma is pretty special because, if you look back through the years, and our championships span decades, starting way back with Benny Owen. And after the war with Bud Wilkinson and the dynasty really that started with all the national championships," said OU head coach Bob Stoops. "And of course Coach Switzer kept it going for a good number of years as well.

"Since 2000, we have had a pretty good run of wins. So we are just proud of the whole tradition and history here because of all decades that it encompasses and all the different players and coaches that it encompasses."

Tonight's close contest, which almost prevented adding one more win to all those great decades, all came about because Utah State was able to chip into a 21-0 deficit OU held midway through the second quarter.

The Aggies scored 10 quick points, part of 17 unanswered, in the final four 3:33 of the first half.

First, place kicker Peter Caldwell converted a 40-yard attempt, followed by a four-yard touchdown run moments later by running back Michael Smith, which made it 21-10 at the half.

Utah State struck again early in the second half with a 42-yard touchdown toss from quarterback Diondre Borel to receiver Dontel Watkins to cut the lead to only four at 21-17.

"Utah State had a good game plan," said OU linebacker Travis Lewis. "We didn't have any fight in us."

But that's when OU answered, as running back DeMarco Murray blasted around the corner and up the left sideline for a 63-yard touchdown to put the Sooners back up 11.

Sooner kicker Patrick O'Hara added a 32-yard field goal less than three minutes later, seemingly placing OU in commanding position up 31-17.

But the Aggies simply wouldn't go away.

Wideout Xavier Martin caught Borel's second touchdown pass of the day, this time a 31-yard reception, to close third quarter scoring and the gap at 31-24.

However, that's where it would stay, as the Sooners held the Aggies to just 65 yards of total offense in the fourth quarter and secured the victory.

The Sooners came out of the gates fast, scoring just 1:37 into the first when quarterback Landry Jones hit slot receiver Ryan Broyles for a 12-yard touchdown to give them the early 7-0 lead.

OU made it 14-0 when Murray scampered in from one yard out for his first score of the night.

"He's a tough, hard running guy and really handled it well," Stoops said.

And Broyles made it 21-0 on his second touchdown catch, a 21-yard reception from Jones midway through the second quarter.

OU outgained the Aggies by one yard, racking up 422 yards of total offense to 421 for Utah State.

Jones was 17-for-36 for 217 yards and two touchdowns along with two interceptions, while Borel was also 17-for-36 with 341 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Murray had a career high 35 carries for 225 yards, and Broyles had a monster game with nine catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns.

"DeMarco and Ryan Broyles have both been really good practice players and that's the standard we set for our players," said offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. "They both had good nights and good practice weeks and those go hand-in-hand."

For Utah State, Watkins led the way with three receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown, while Martin had four catches for 60 yards and a touchdown.

OU gets set to play Florida State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at home.

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