Mo­men­tum-shift­ing safety high­lights de­fense’s big day

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SOONER POSTGAME - AR­LING­TON, TEXAS Berry Tramel

Tre Brown had the feel­ing. Then he saw Texas quar­ter­back Sam Eh­linger fake a hand­off, and Brown had more than a feel­ing. He saw a green light to vic­tory.

Brown is noth­ing if not fast. He some­times gets over­pow­ered at cor­ner­back, but he can run. And with the Big 12 Cham­pi­onship on the line Sat­ur­day, OU de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Ruf­fin McNeill called a bound­ary blitz. Brown zipped into the end zone, knocked down Eh­linger be­fore the Bevo build-a-like knew what hit him, and more than or­der was re­stored in Jer­ryWorld. Sooner de­fen­sive pride was back.

OU beat the Longhorns 39-27 to keep alive its Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off hopes, and for once this sea­son, Kyler Mur­ray and Co. had help. Lots of help. Cru­cial help. Not just a cou­ple of mon­ster plays in a 59-56 vic­tory. Con­sis­tent, qual­ity play.

“They were awe­some to­day,” Lin­coln Ri­ley said. “They played just like we know they can


When the OU of­fense was slow to start (six points through al­most 25 min­utes), the de­fense hung in. When the fourth quar­ter ar­rived, the de­fense dom­i­nated. In to­tal, Texas had 10 pos­ses­sions and four touch­downs. Wouldn’t im­press Tony Casil­las or Brian Bos­worth, but in the 21st cen­tury, it’s win­ning foot­ball.

“Have we played like the Chicago Bears? No,” said McNeill. “But have we won games?”

Ri­ley has been say­ing that all year. And it fi­nally came true in the most unique OU-Texas game of them all. Twenty-one miles west of the Cot­ton Bowl, the an­cient ri­vals staged a bat­tle royale for a tro­phy not named the Golden Hat, and the Soon­ers won it with not only great of­fense from Mur­ray, who for­ti­fied his Heis­man Tro­phy cam­paign, but also with solid de­fense.

Never thought I’d see the day. Not this sea­son. But in the fourth quar­ter that be­gan tied, the OU de­fense outscored the Texas of­fense 2-0. The Longhorns’ three pos­ses­sions ended in punt, safety and in­ter­cep­tion. And the safety sucked all the mo­men­tum out of UT.

OU’s CeeDee Lamb had just fum­bled on the end of a 56-yard pass play, in­side the 10-yard line, and Texas took the field trail­ing 30-27.

But on sec­ond down, McNeill ordered a blitz for ei­ther Brown, line­backer Cur­tis Bolton or safety Robert Barnes, de­pend­ing on the Longhorn for­ma­tion. Brown claimed the right.

“I was like, man, I got it,” Brown said. “I’m feel­ing it right now. I’m go­ing to go get it. Had my chance, right there … es­pe­cially when I saw him do play-ac­tion pass. I was like, ‘wow. I can’t be­lieve he just faked the ball.’”

That de­lay meant Eh­linger had no chance. “I got a green light and I took my shot and de­liv­ered,” Brown said.

Down went Eh­linger, up went OU’s lead to five, and Mur­ray promptly di­rected a clock-eat­ing drive to a touch­down that ended Bevo hopes.

“My fault for not see­ing him,” Eh­linger said. “I was look­ing the other way.”

Then to ice the day, cor­ner­back Par­nell Mot­ley tipped Eh­linger’s fi­nal pass, and Tre Nor­wood, moved to safety for this game, in­ter­cepted.

A per­fect script for Ok­la­homa, re­ally. A vic­tory over Texas, with some solid de­fense and a semi-nor­mal score that showed the play­off com­mit­tee these Soon­ers can win the tra­di­tional way.

“We made a state­ment,” Brown said. “Big game. Big-time game. De­fense made a lot of big-time plays. “

None big­ger than Brown’s. Two points. Posses­sion of the foot­ball. Price­less mo­men­tum.

“I don’t like fum­bling,” said Lamb, who could have been the goat. “For me to cough up the ball and then Tre to back­door and help me out, that took a lot of weight off my shoul­ders. I couldn’t thank him enough.”

All the OU of­fense can say the same about all the be­lea­guered de­fense, which played its best game of the year in the big­gest game of the year.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at [email protected]­la­ He can be heard Mon­day through Fri­day from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports An­i­mal ra­dio net­work, in­clud­ing FM-98.1. You can also view his per­son­al­ity page at­tramel.

Grant Cal­caterra’s one-handed touch­down catch in front of Texas’ B.J. Fos­ter (25) put OU up 39-27.

[email protected] ok­la­


Kyler Mur­ray had plenty to smile about in OU’s 39-27 win over Texas on Sat­ur­day.

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