Strong Second Half Propels Longhorns
Courtesy: Associated Press
          Release: 10/11/2008
Send this article to a friend Print RSS
Cody Johnston crosses the goal line for one of his two 4th quarter touchdowns
By Wendell Barnhouse
Big 12 Sports.com Correspondent

DALLAS - Texas coach Mack Brown likened the fifth-ranked Longhorns' 45-35 victory over top-ranked Oklahoma to a heavyweight fight.

Following that analogy, the teams opened by punching (Oklahoma's opening drive for a TD) and counter punching (Texas answered with a field goal). The rest of the first quarter had the two teams circling, probing. After the opening drives, the teams ran 16 plays for 20 yards. The rest of the game was like Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots and Rocky Balboa vs. Apollo Creed.

If this had been a boxing match, the Longhorns would have won a split decision because they landed more punches whenever the Sooners lowered their guard - which wasn't often.

"It's a shame these two teams are in the same conference, in the same division and play so early in the season," Brown said. "These are two of the best teams in the country. Usually with college kids in a game like this, somebody gives. But give those kids credit on both sides of the ball. I didn't see anybody loaf. I didn't see anyboyd give up.

"I thought it was one of the greatest football games I've ever seen."

There were several times when the game neared a tipping point. Whenever it appeared the momentum was about to swing toward Oklahoma's sideline, Texas made the play.

"They got the better of us," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "You have to give credit to them. They made the plays in the second half."

Here were the key moments that decided the game:

Tipping Point One
Oklahoma took a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter with a 74-yard two-minute drill drive. Ryan Broyles caught three consecutive passes for 34 yards to jump start the drive. He finished it with an offensive rebound.

Tight end Jermaine Greshman bobbled, bobbled, bobbled a pass near the goal line. The final bounce took toward Broyles, who snagged the loose ball just before it found the orange tinted grass.

It was the kind of fortuitous play can decide a game.

Jordan Shipley made sure it didn't. He took the enusing kickoff and raced untouched for a 96-yard kickoff return that made it 14-10.

"We were playing well and that play got (Texas) all fired up," Stoops said. "It looked to me like we had it covered pretty well and a couple of our guys hesitated."

Tipping Point Two
The Sooners responded with another quick-strike drive. The sixth play of a 73-yard march was Gresham's 52-yard TD catch. He was the beneficiary of a busted coverage. That made it 21-10 and again called for a Texas response.

Twelve plays, 80 yards and 6:44 later, designated scorer Cody Johnson scored on a one-yard, steam rolling sweep on third and goal.

Tipping Point Three
Leading 21-17, Oklahoma had 3:35 remaining and all of its timeouts. On a third-and-three, Bradford threw deep for Broyles. Bradford was pressured but the rush didn't appear to bother the throw. It was a yard too far for Broyles but red shirt freshman Earl Thomas made a diving interception. The change of possession resulted on Hunter Lawrence's 33-yard field goal on the final play.

"You get a turnover and a score right before halftime, we were gonna get the ball to start the second half, all that usually gives you great momentum," Brown said. "We did all that and then came out in the third and we stunk."

Texas went three-and-out, punted and the Sooners went 51 yards in six plays and 90 seconds. When Quan Cosby hesitated on the kickoff return, the Longhorns had to start at their 11-yard line. Another three-and-out or something similar would have sent Mr. Mo to the Sooners' side.

On third and six from the 15, McCoy hit Brandon Collins for 10 yards on a bubble screen. That provided the impetus for an 89-yard, 12 play touchdown drive capped when McCoy found Shipley running free in the back of the end zone.

Tipping Point Four
Clinging to a 28-27 lead near the end of the third quarter, the Sooners faced a fourth-and-six at their 48. On a fake, punter Mike Knall came within a foot of keeping Oklahoma's possession alive. Texas turned the short field into Lawrence's 28-yard field goal that gave the Longhorns their first lead.

"We thought we could get the momentum and steal a possession," Stoops said.

"I commend Bob for trying the fake punt," Brown said. "Our guys made a great play to keep them from getting it."

Tipping Point Five
After Oklahoma used a roughing the punter penalty on Texas to drive for a touchdown and a 35-30 lead, it again fell to the Longhorns to answer.

From the Oklahoma 38, McCoy found Shipley over the middle. He was tackled at the 37, setting up another TD run for Johnson. A two-point conversion made it 38-35.

"We thought the middle would be open a lot," said McCoy, who finished 28 of 35 for 277 yards.

McCoy caught the Sooners in a zone blitz.

"We had (Shipley) covered but he sort of bent the pattern and we lost him," Stoops said. "Texas picked up the blitz. You blitz like that, you're always short in coverage and they got us on that play."

Tipping Point Six
Oklahoma's answer was a three-and-out. After a punt, the Longhorns had it at their own 20 with 6:32 remaining.

On a third-and-four, McCoy evaded Oklahoma's rush and dumped a pass to running back Chris Ogbonnaya for a 10-yard gain.

"I was a safety valve," Ogbonnaya said. "Colt has a lot of savvy. He gave me the look that he might need me on that play."

McCoy's savvy paid off on the next play. He waved his arms and pointed at receivers Cosby and Shipley - then handed it off to Ogbonnaya.

"Those were dummy signals," McCoy said. "We had been throwing it and throwing it and their secondary was creeping up."

Ogbonnaya stretched the play toward the Texas sideline then cut back when the Sooners over-pursused. Sixty-two yards later, Texas had the ball at the OU two. Johnson scored his third TD on a two-yard run to make it 45-35.

"We thought we had to win the turnover battle and the kicking game," said Brown, whose team had two interceptions and made all three of its field goals. "But not everything is scripted."

< Back to Insider