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Archive for Sunday, October 13, 2002

Griffin leads Sooners in Red River shootout - No. 2 Oklahoma 35, No. 3 Texas 24

October 13, 2002

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— Just as the Red River shootout started to slip away from the Oklahoma Sooners, Quentin Griffin ran to the rescue and all over the Texas Longhorns.

Griffin scooped up a loose ball to score the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter, ran 17 yards for the game-clinching score with 3:02 left and finished with a career-high 248 yards to carry the No. 2 Sooners past the No. 3 Longhorns 35-24 Saturday.

"Quentin had an incredible day. I think he really likes to play Texas," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said, referring to Griffin's six-TD day against the Longhorns in 2000.

Oklahoma (6-0, 2-0 Big 12) beat its border rival for the third straight time, but this one was the toughest yet.

The Sooners trailed by 11 in the second quarter and were behind at halftime for the first time since the 1999 Independence Bowl, but they rallied with 24 unanswered points.

"I knew if we kept executing, something would give," Sooners tight end Trent Smith said. "This is what we prepared for all week long. We had the confidence."

Texas (5-1, 1-1) got its first three scores, and a 17-11 lead, by making the most of Nate Hybl's four interceptions. Otherwise, the Longhorns couldn't do much.

Coach Mack Brown fell to 2-7 against top-10 teams, and quarterback Chris Simms fell to 0-4. Simms was 12-of-26 for 156 yards with three interceptions and was sacked four times, including on the game's final play. He's committed 15 turnovers in games against top-10 teams.

"It has nothing to do with Chris and I; it's about the team," Brown said. "Any time you lose to OU, it's disappointing."

What hurt the Longhorns more than Simms' interceptions was his inability to get the offense going in the second half.

Texas got a first down on its second play of the third quarter, then didn't get another until there was 2:43 left. In between, the Longhorns saw a 14-11 lead turn into a 35-17 deficit.

The Oklahoma defense deserves much of the credit.

Led by linebackers Teddy Lehman and Lance Mitchell, the Sooners held a Texas offense that was averaging 408.2 yards per game to 209.

"I think we did a good job executing our game plan," Lehman said. "We stopped the run, put them in tough situations and executed."

The Longhorns recovered from a 14-3 loss to Oklahoma last year to get in position to play the national championship. That gives them hope that the season isn't ruined and helps them get focused for their next three games at Iowa State, home against Kansas State, then at Nebraska.

"It's one game in a long season," Simms said. "We have a lot of tough games ahead of us."

What Oklahoma hopes to take from this game is a revitalized running game.

Griffin has had some good outings lately, but not consistently and certainly not against a defense this good. Texas came in allowing 104.2 yards per game and hadn't given up more than 99 yards to one player.

Griffin topped that in 10 minutes. He had 117 in the first quarter, then after only 29 in the middle two quarters he rumbled for 102 in the final period.

"I really felt we were going to run well today," run-game coordinator Kevin Wilson said. "I just thought we had a nice plan."

"It's always really fun to play at the Cotton Bowl," Griffin said.

His most important carry wasn't a handoff. It was a fumble recovery.

Will Peoples caught a pass in the right flat on third-and-goal from the 6. Linebacker Reed Boyd forced the ball out just shy of the goal line, but Griffin was right there. He scooped it up and walked in untouched to put OU ahead 21-17 early in the fourth quarter.

"That's one of the things they do they find ways to win," Texas defensive end Cory Redding said.

The Sooners scored again on their next possession, getting a 3-yard TD run by Kejuan Jones after Hybl and Peoples connected on another clutch play.

Then it was back to Griffin. On OU's next drive, he carried on all four plays, producing runs of 23, 21, minus-2, then a 17-yarder for a touchdown that put the Sooners up 35-17. When the Longhorns got the ball back, Sooners fans greeted them with chants of "Over-rated."

The solid running game should've made things easier for Hybl, but the senior struggled.

After not throwing an interception on his last 148 passes, he was picked off on his fifth, 13th and 19th throws. He finished 12-of-29 for 131 yards.

"It was awesome to see them execute in spite of me," he said.

Texas turned Hybl's first interception into a 71-yard TD drive, with Simms hitting Roy Williams for 44 yards, then diving in from the 1 for a 7-0 lead. Rod Babers returned the second interception 73 yards for a touchdown that made it 14-3.

The Sooners looked likely to go into halftime trailing by that margin, but Antwone Savage returned a kickoff 81 yards to the Texas 16. The Longhorns helped keep OU's drive alive with a false start on fourth-and-2, then Hybl threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Trent Smith. Hybl then lobbed a 2-point conversion pass to Curtis Fagan to make it 14-11.

Hybl again proved to be Texas' best offensive weapon as his third interception put the Longhorns on the Oklahoma 21. They settled for a 36-yard field goal by Dusty Mangum to go up 17-11. A 37-yard field goal by DiCarlo got the Sooners back within three. He also had a 29-yarder in the first half.

Simms scored Texas' final touchdown on another 1-yard dive, but it was too little, too late.

The Sooners have their first three-game win streak in the 97-game rivarly since winning four in a row from 1985-88. Texas leads overall, 55-37-6.

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