No.1 Sooners Shut Out Tulsa, 37-0

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
AUGUST 29, 2002

TULSA, Okla. -- It took Oklahoma much longer than expected to begin looking like a possible No. 1 team.

The Sooners, who moved into a tie with Miami this week atop The Associated Press Top 25 poll, led just 3-0 at halftime before beating Tulsa 37-0 Friday night.

Senior tailback Quentin Griffin needed just 17 carries to gain a career-high 237 yards, and freshman Kejuan Jones had 70 yards and two short touchdown runs. But dropped passes, three turnovers deep in Tulsa territory and other mistakes made for a sloppy opener.

"There were a lot of good parts of this game and we're going to focus on those," coach Bob Stoops said.

"We had four third-down drops inside the 25-yard line, and we have three turnovers inside the 20. If we don't have those, we're in great shape."

The Sooners, who were 11-2 last year, only managed a field goal in the first half against a team that gave up 35 points and 447 yards per game while going 1-10 a year ago. Oklahoma ended up hammering Tulsa up the middle and finished with 378 yards rushing, the most in Stoops' three-plus seasons as coach.

"We understand we're going to see a lot more physical people than Tulsa," Stoops said. "But we've played some other teams that we've outmatched and that hasn't happened before."

After a first half that kept the mostly pro-Oklahoma crowd quiet, the Sooners scored twice early in the third quarter to take control, then added three fourth-quarter TDs to make it a blowout.

Griffin had runs of 44, 7 and 3 yards to set up an 8-yard touchdown run by Jones two minutes into the second half. Four minutes later, Antonio Perkins returned a punt 91 yards for a touchdown that made it 17-0.

In the fourth quarter, Jones scored on a 1-yard run after gaining 39 yards on a carry earlier in the drive. Oklahoma scored twice in the final five minutes, each on short drives set up by turnovers. Renaldo Works scored on a 13-yard run and Jerad Estus scored from 11 yards out.

Jason White, making his first start at quarterback since a season-ending knee injury last October against Nebraska, was 15-of-26 for 126 yards. But he threw an interception in the end zone in the first half and another inside the 15-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter.

"We got off to a slow start. We made a lot of mistakes," White said. "We found out we have a lot to work on."

Griffin had 155 yards on nine carries in the first half, but the Sooners failed to reach the end zone.

Oklahoma receivers dropped three third-down passes in the half, two of which would have kept drives going. Tight end Trent Smith also lost a fumble at the Tulsa 10 late in the first quarter.

Just before halftime, Oklahoma began a drive at its 2 and used a 20-yard completion by White and 50-yard run by Griffin to move to the Tulsa 7.

But the next snap went over White's head for a 21-yard loss, and two plays later he was intercepted in the end zone.

"The thing about it is, it's correctable and we are going to correct it next week," said offensive coordinator Chuck Long. "We executed well, but we turned it over in the red zone. We have over 500 yards and we're struggling."

Tulsa shocked Oklahoma by gaining 33 yards on the first play of the game. But the Golden Hurricane finished with just 213 total yards, lost two fumbles and had to punt 10 times.

"The effort we put forth in the first half was outstanding," said Tulsa coach Keith Burns, whose team has lost 11 straight since winning its 2001 opener. "We've got to learn to do that for two halves."



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