No. 1 Sooners Survive Scare From Oklahoma State, 12-7

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 25, 2000

Nov. 25, 2000

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AP Sports Writer

STILLWATER, Okla. - Top-ranked Oklahoma isn't exactly rolling into the postseason.

An offense rated at or near the top of the national scoring charts all year struggled for the second straight week Saturday in a 12-7 victory over Oklahoma State.

Josh Heupel was 19-of-36 for 154 yards - his lowest total in 23 games as a Sooner - with two interceptions. His 248 yards against Texas Tech a week earlier had been his season low.

Oklahoma's point total was its lowest in 26 games since a 29-0 loss to Texas A&M in 1998.

"Fortunately, we made enough big plays to win the game, especially down the stretch," coach Bob Stoops said. "Give Oklahoma State credit. We will and I will."

The Sooners (11-0, 8-0 Big 12) completed their first perfect regular season since 1987. They play Kansas State next week in the Big 12 title game, where a victory would send them to the Orange Bowl to play for the national championship.

Oklahoma State (3-8, 1-7) put up a great effort in Bob Simmons' final game as coach, but came up short in the closing minutes.

"That's what we wanted to do, was have a chance to win in the fourth quarter and put ourselves in position," said Simmons, who is resigning under pressure after six seasons. "We came up short."

Oklahoma drove 99 yards for a touchdown on its first possession of the game, then played sporadically the rest of the way.

But Heupel came up with two big plays that allowed Oklahoma to run out the clock. Facing third-and-11 at the Oklahoma 11 with two minutes left, he completed a 12-yard pass to Curtis Fagan for a first down. Then on third-and-2 with 38 seconds remaining, he ran for 4 yards.

"The difference between being successful and not successful is a very thin line," Heupel said. "We were on the wrong side of it today for the most part. We need to get things corrected and get ready to go next week."

Oklahoma had held Oklahoma State in check before freshman Tatum Bell took a pitch around the left side and raced 60 yards for a touchdown that made it 12-7 late in the third quarter.

The Sooners appeared to take control again on the next possession, using a nice run-pass mix to drive from their 21 to the Cowboys' 19. But the drive stalled with two incompletions - one of them a drop on what would have been a first-down catch - and Tim Duncan missed a 45-yard field goal.

The Cowboys used a 22-yard punt return by Gabe Lindsay to begin their final drive at the Oklahoma 39. They moved inside the 10-yard line before an illegal procedure penalty on third-and-goal pushed them back. On fourth-and-goal from the 12, Aso Pogi threw in the end zone for Marcellus Rivers, but cornerback Derrick Strait broke up the play.

"To find ways to win close ball games shows a lot of toughness and character," Stoops said. "I'm proud of our guys, in a difficult situation the way they made plays and found a way to win the entire day."

Heupel was 5-of-7 for 49 yards on Oklahoma's first possession, including a 3-yard TD pass to Curtis Fagan. Quentin Griffin, who had 115 yards on 21 carries, had a 39-yarder to put the Sooners deep in OSU territory.

The Sooners got a field goal and safety in the second quarter, when two other drives ended with Heupel's interceptions. The field goal was set up by an interception and 35-yard return by J.T. Thatcher. The safety came late in the quarter when Pogi was called for intentional grounding in the end zone while being tackled by linebacker Rocky Calmus.

Heupel threw his first interception near midfield on the next drive, but Oklahoma got the ball back one play later when linebacker Torrance Marshall picked off Pogi.

The Sooners then drove to the 15 before Heupel was intercepted again



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