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Oklahoma Sooners Football: OU outlasts Texas, 53-45, in wild Red River Shootout

The highest scoring game in Red River history turned out to be an instant classic.

NCAA Football: Texas at Oklahoma The Oklahoman-USA TODAY NETWORK

In the 116th edition of the Red River Showdown, the Oklahoma Sooners overcame waves of adversity to down the No. 22 Texas Longhorns (2-2, 1-2) in quadruple OT, 53-45. With the win, OU improves to 2-2 on the season, 1-2 in Big 12 play.

Oklahoma started with the ball on offense to open the game, but a series of pre-snap penalties and blown-up plays had the Sooners moving backwards for an eventual three-and-out. As Texas took over following a punt, the Longhorns looked comfortable generating offense until the OU defense forced junior RB Keaontay Ingram to cough up the rock.

Off the turnover, Spencer Rattler led the offense down the field with the help of a revitalized run game. Junior running back T.J. Pledger also found a groove, and in the end the drive resulted in a 19-yard Gabe Brkic field goal to put the Sooners up, 3-0.

Alex Grinch’s defense forced another Texas punt on its following drive, and once again Riley’s offense produced plays in bunches. The capper came when Rattler found true freshman WR Marvin Mims wide open for a 30-yard TD. Oklahoma extended its lead to 10-0.

After UT’s Sam Ehlinger scored a rushing touchdown off of Rattler’s second TO early in the second quarter, Lincoln Riley replaced his young starting QB with redshirt sophomore Tanner Mordecai. The backup came in and played admirably, settling down the offense.

Later in the second, sophomore LB David Ugwoegbu blocked a punt from junior Ryan Bujcevski, setting up the Sooners in prime field position. Redshirt freshman RB Marcus Major paid it off with a seven-yard touchdown run.

After going into the half tied at 17, Grinch’s defense bowed up and put the clamps on Texas’ offense. Not only that, but Oklahoma’s offense also played itself into a rhythm, churning out 14 points and using up the majority of the clock in the third quarter.

In the fourth, the veteran Ehlinger showed why he’s been such a formidable leader for the Longhorns. His valiant effort powered UT’s two-score comeback to tie things up, sending this one to overtime.

Texas started with the ball in the first OT and found the end zone, putting the onus on Oklahoma’s offense to respond. Rattler would deliver on an 11-yard TD pass to sophomore H-back Austin Stogner.

Both teams traded scores once again in the second OT, making the game a 45-all tie. In the third extra period, the Sooners held the Longhorns to a field goal attempt, and by some kind of magic junior DT Josh Ellison blocked the kick from UT’s Cameron Dicker. Unfortunately, OU played for the FG on the other side, and Brkic’s try hooked wide left. The game would reach a fourth OT period.

Rattler looked to be in a true rhythm throughout the overtime sessions, and in the final stanza he connected with a streaking Drake Stoops for a beautiful 25-yard score. Per OT rules, the Sooners had to attempt a two-point conversion, and sophomore WR Theo Wease was up for the challenge.

Ehlinger and the Longhorn offense had one last chance to try to keep the game going, but Tre Brown had seen enough of the Texas State fairgrounds for one day. His heroic pick in the end zone sealed the deal and the win for the Crimson & Cream.

A lot will be made of Rattler being benched, but in hindsight, it appears to have been a necessary move for Riley to make. Bringing him back at the start of the third quarter was also good timing, because it allowed him to reset and re-engage himself in the game.

The offensive player of the game for the Sooners has to be T.J. Pledger. Without the services of true freshman RB Seth McGowan, much of the running game on Saturday was thrust on Pledger’s shoulders. In total, he recorded 155 yards from scrimmage and two TDs on 24 touches. His consistency throughout the day paced Oklahoma, allowing the team around him to find its groove.

Defensively, the interceptions made by Woodi Washington and Brown were obviously game-changers, but as a whole, the defense showed a lot of improvement on tackling. Even at times when the pass rush wasn’t getting to Ehlinger, there was enough constant pressure against the Texas offensive line to disrupt the Longhorns’ flow for the majority of the afternoon.

Up next, Oklahoma has an off week before making a trip to Fort Worth to take on TCU. The Sooners have won their last six meetings with the Horned Frogs, including a 28-24 thriller in Norman last season. TV channel and kick-off time are still to be determined.

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