NORMAN — Army found the formula to stop Kyler Murray and the Oklahoma offense: just don’t let the Sooners have the football.
That formula almost worked, nearly producing Army’s biggest victory in decades — and almost wrecked the Sooners’ season.
OU survived a significant scare by the Black Knights on Saturday night at Owen Field, prevailing 28-21 in overtime and staying undefeated.
“Boy, tough win tonight,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said, “but a win nonetheless.”
“I’ve just never been more proud of a team than I am this one,” Army coach Jeff Monken told Sporting News, “just the way they played tonight and the confidence they showed against a great football team.”
Oklahoma entered as a 29-point favorite, but with the score tied at 21 early in the fourth quarter, Army stuffed the Sooners in a dramatic goal-line stand.
“Our guys hung in there,” Riley said. “They trusted that it was gonna be a challenge, and we knew, look, if there’s a couple of plays in that game that you don’t make, it’s gonna be a close game against them. I mean, that’s just the way it is. Those couple plays that we had a chance to separate, we didn’t do it, but we fought and hung in there.”
Stoops and his defense took a beating Saturday night, and the public floggings will continue as the Sooners prepare for Baylor this week.
“You can look at it however you want. I’m not going there,” Stoops said. “You guys will go there. We’ve got to play better. We will play better. I love this team. These guys … we’re courageous too. I couldn’t be more proud of these guys to fight through this.”
The Black Knights then launched yet another cross-country march to try to win the game, but only reached midfield.
The Sooners drove and lined up to win it with a walk-off field goal, but senior Austin Seibert missed a chip-shot kick, sending the game to overtime.
Oklahoma (4-0) ran only 40 plays on offense, compared to Army’s 87. The Black Knights’ flexbone triple option rushing offense was executed with ultimate precision by quarterback Kelvin Hopkins, who rushed 25 times for 102 yards and a touchdown and deceived the Sooner defense all night. Fullbacks Darnell Woolfolk (21 rushes for 71 yards) and Andy Davidson (5 for 20) plowed up the middle and halfbacks Kell Walker (12 for 80) and Jordan Asberry (5 for 36) worked the Sooners outside.
Army (2-2) had the ball for more than 44 minutes, converted 13-of-21 third downs and 4-of-5 fourth downs. The Black Knights had drives of 16, 16, 19 and 17 plays, and ate up more than 38 minutes on those four possessions.
“I’m not gonna sit here and try to explain it,” said OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, whose team yielded 339 rushing yards. “They’re a terrific football team. They fight extremely hard. I think that shows you why we’re in pretty good hands living in the United States. They are very courageous and they’re not scared of anything. They played that way tonight. Just frustrating we couldn’t get more stops.”
To read the rest of John E. Hoover’s Sporting News report, click here:
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “The Franchise Drive” every weeknight from 6-8 on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and appears throughout the day on other shows on The Franchise. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.