NORMAN — The fifth ranked Oklahoma Sooners prevailed in overtime against the United States Military Academy at West Point 28-21.
Oklahoma needed every big play they could muster in order to achieve the victory. The Army Black Knights held the ball for a ridiculous 44:41, keeping the Sooner offense off the field and off rhythm. Army outsnapped Oklahoma 87 plays to 40.
Everyone knows the military academies are tough because of the offense they choose to run. Sooner coaches and players even admitted that they took time during fall camp to prepare for the option. Despite the preparation, Army rushed for 339 yards on 78 carries. They converted 13 of 21 third downs and even moved the chains on four of five fourth down conversions.
“Our guys don’t flinch,” Army head coach Jeff Monken said after the game. “That’s the toughness that is a part of this program and built into the fabric of the culture that is Army football. West Point. The United States Army. I promise you, there’s not an American soldier out there that would flinch in the face of adversity either. We have a bunch of soldiers on our team and I’m proud of them.”
The Sooners received the opening kick and struck fast. Kyler Murray found Carson Meier for the 11-yard touchdown catch. Murray, who finished with 165 yards passing, only threw 15 times the entire game. He added 71 yards on the ground on ten carries.
Army then took the next possession and gave Oklahoma fans a sign of things to come. An agonizing 16-play, 75 yard drive that took 9:31 off the clock. Connor Slomka capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown dive.
Oklahoma responded with a lightning quick score to CeeDee Lamb to lead 14-7.
The second quarter saw both teams score touchdowns. Murray raced down the sideline for a 33-yard score to extend the lead 21-14.
After halftime, Oklahoma fans began to feel nervous. The Sooner offense scored one time in their final five drives going back to the end of the second quarter. Three punts and a bad Murray interception kept Oklahoma from extending their lead. The Black Knights took advantage in the third with a 19-play, 85 yard touchdown drive to tie the game at 21.
Late in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma drove the football down to the goal line. A touchdown would essentially put the game out of reach. Army held strong and stuffed the Sooners, forcing a turnover on downs.
The Black Knights marched down the field with the end zone in front of them, before a quarterback pressure forced quarterback Kelvin Hopkins, Jr. into a bad throw that was intercepted by Kenneth Mann. With a little over two minutes left, Oklahoma had life.
Until team captain Austin Seibert missed a 33-yard field goal as time expired, forcing overtime.
“I’m surprised he missed,” Riley said. “But I still have full confidence in him. If I had to do it again.”
The Sooners would then find Lamb (four catches for 22 yards) again for a touchdown to take a 28-21 lead. On Army’s next possession, the defense forced another bad throw that fell directly in Parnell Motley’s hands. His second game winning interception in as many weeks.
Linebacker Kenneth Murray shattered Brian Bosworth’s single-game tackle record with 28 take downs. The record was 23 which Bosworth earned in a loss to the Miami Hurricanes in 1986.
“We’ve been playing against option teams for a long time,” Riley said of Murray and fellow lineback Curtis Bolton. “What they did was incredible.”
— Eric Bailey (@EricBaileyTW) September 23, 2018