Soon­ers elect to de­fend in vic­tory

OK­LA­HOMA 44, WEST VA. 24

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY CLIFF BRUNT

nor­man, okla. — The de­fense for 15th-ranked Ok­la­homa proved it was ready to play as it col­lected seven sacks and forced five turnovers in a 44-24 win over No. 23 West Vir­ginia on Satur­day.

Line­backer Eric Striker led the charge. He had 13 tack­les, in­clud­ing two sacks and three tack­les for loss, and forced a fum­ble in the fourth quar­ter that Jor­dan Evans re­turned 41 yards for a touch­down.

“I thought we had a good week of prac­tice, and I thought you could see it in ev­ery­body’s eyes,” Striker said.

Jor­dan Thomas in­ter­cepted two passes and Evans had nine tack­les for the Soon­ers (4- 0, 1- 0 Big 12).

Skyler Howard threw three in­ter­cep­tions and lost two fum­bles for the Moun­taineers, who had com­mit­ted just two turnovers in their first three games. Wen­dell Small­wood ran for 111 yards for the Moun­taineers (3-1, 0-1).

But West Vir­ginia hurt its cause re­peat­edly with turnovers and penal­ties.

The chippy con­test fea­tured a com­bined 245 yards in penal­ties and plenty of push­ing and shov­ing.

Dur­ing pregame warmups, play­ers from both teams were seen jaw­ing at each other. It did not sit well with the home team.

“They came in, and it was re­ally dis­re­spect­ful, and I re­ally didn’t ap­prove of it,” Dede West­brook said. “You don’t come into some­one’s house and dis­re­spect us the way that they did. And we pretty much showed them with our game.”

The Moun­taineers came in with the na­tion’s top-ranked scor­ing de­fense, sur­ren­der­ing just 7.7 points per game. Mark An­drews’ 17-yard touch­down re­cep­tion from May­field with 8 min­utes 45 sec­onds left in the first quar­ter was the first points West Vir­ginia al­lowed in the first half of a game this sea­son.

May­field con­nected with Ster­ling Shep­ard for a 28yard touch­down pass in the sec­ond quar­ter, and Joe Mixon’s 25-yard scor­ing run late in the first half sent the Soon­ers into the break with a 24-7 lead. Ok­la­homa scored more points in the first half than West Vir­ginia al­lowed in its first three games.

The Moun­taineers closed the gap in the third quar­ter. A spec­tac­u­lar touch­down grab by Jovon Du­rante cut Ok­la­homa’s lead to 24-14. A fum­ble by West­brook led to a short Josh Lam­bert field goal that made it 24-17 mid­way through the third quar­ter.

Af­ter the Soon­ers took a 27-17 lead, West Vir­ginia went for it on fourth and two, and Howard kept on the read op­tion and strolled 50 yards for a touch­down. May­field re­sponded with a 71-yard scor­ing strike to Neal to put the Soon­ers up 34-24.

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