Sept. 9, 2000
By OWEN CANFIELD
AP Sports Writer
NORMAN, Okla. - Through the air, on the ground and with special teams, No. 20 Oklahoma beat Arkansas State every which way Saturday night.
Josh Heupel threw three touchdown passes, J.T. Thatcher returned a punt 66 yards for a score on his way to a school record for returns, and freshman Renaldo Works ran for 109 yards in a 45-7 victory.
The defense also contributed, holding Jonathan Adams to 43 yards on 12 carries one week after he gained 137 in a double-overtime loss to North Carolina State.
"We've got a lot to improve on," said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, whose team has next week off. "We can sit now and analyze these two games, what we need to do, what's been good and bad and really emphasize improvement. We need to make some improvement this week in many areas, really."
The Sooners (2-0) were penalized 11 times for 95 yards, but it hardly mattered. Arkansas State (0-2) didn't cross midfield until late in the second quarter while falling behind 28-0. And the Indians were penalized 14 times themselves.
"I think they'll be tested when they play against a better football team," Arkansas State coach Joe Hollis said of the Sooners, who have outscored their two opponents 100-21. "They were better, they were more athletic and they had more team speed."
All of Heupel's touchdowns came on third-and-long plays, including two in the first half. His 35 career TD passes, accomplished in 13 games, tied the school record set by Cale Gundy in 40 games from 1990-93.
Thatcher had 160 yards on five returns, breaking the Oklahoma record of 146 yards set last season by Jarrail Jackson against Missouri. Thatcher also had an interception that set up a third-quarter touchdown.
"J.T. got a game ball for defense and offense," Stoops said. "He really played well in both parts of the game.
"I felt good in that we made a lot of improvement in the kicking game from a week ago."
Heupel was 24-of-32 for 301 yards and, thanks to a 75-yard touchdown run by Works in the fourth quarter, the Sooners topped 200 yards on the ground.
Oklahoma's longest drive of the night was its first, an 80-yarder that Heupel capped with a 1-yard sneak.
Thatcher then scored on his punt return, taking the ball right up the middle before cutting to the outside and outrunning the Indians to the end zone.
"It was a middle call and I saw I had to make one guy miss, so I made him miss," Thatcher said. "I went to the outside and saw the sidelines and just went to the house."
A 30-yard return by Thatcher and a personal foul against the Indians set Oklahoma up at the Arkansas State 42 late in the first quarter. The Sooners quickly drove inside the 10, but two penalties left them with third-and-goal from the 26.
That proved to be no problem for Heupel. On the first play of the second quarter, he hit Damian Mackey deep along the left sideline. Mackey ran through a defender near the goal line for Oklahoma's third touchdown.
The Sooners made it 28-0 when Heupel, given plenty of time, found Andre Woolfolk in the back of the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown on third-and-8. The drive began after a 40-yard Thatcher return.
Heupel and Woolfolk collaborated on a touchdown again in the third quarter, this time a 35-yarder on third-and-11. A 14-yard return by Thatcher had set the Sooners up at midfield.
Woolfolk finished with 102 yards on five catches.
Arkansas State's only touchdown came on a 33-yard run by Danny Smith in the second quarter. Robert Kilow had 108 yards on 10 receptions for the Indians.