Sooners elect to defend in victory
OKLAHOMA 44, WEST VA. 24
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.