Oklahoma football: Sooners take over game in second half for 42-35 win

NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 15: The Sooner Schooner takes the field after an Oklahoma Sooners touchdown against the Kansas State Wildcats October 15, 2016 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Kansas State 38-17. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) *** local caption ***
NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 15: The Sooner Schooner takes the field after an Oklahoma Sooners touchdown against the Kansas State Wildcats October 15, 2016 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Kansas State 38-17. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) *** local caption *** /

Kansas State put a giant scare in the Oklahoma football season, but a giant second-half performance enabled the Sooners to win a game they tried very hard to lose.

Ninth-ranked Oklahoma exploded for 32 second-half points and at one point generated 18 unanswered points to overcome a 21-7 deficit and pull out a 42-35 victory, the Sooners seventh consecutive win at Kansas State.

Redshirt sophomore running back Rodney Anderson had a career game, gaining 147 yards on the ground, including a 22-yard scamper around left end for the game-winning touchdown with just seven ticks left on the game clock.

Baker Mayfield led the Sooners to five second-half scores and getting it done with his arm and his legs. The fifth-year senior quarterback completed 32 of 41 passes for 410 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two more touchdowns in totaling 69 rushing yards for the game. Mayfield threw for 262 yards in the second half.

Anderson, who is coming off of two consecutive seasons in which he suffered season-ending injuries, was unstoppable in Oklahoma’s second-half comeback. He averaged nearly eight yards per carry, including a 36-yard burst and the 22-yard touchdown run that capped off OU’s second-half outburst and secured the victory for the visitors.

Kansas State had the Sooners on their heels early, scoring on its second play of the game on a 75-yard run right up the gut by Wildcat running back Alex Barnes. The Sooners countered with a 78-yard drive of their own that ended with a six-yard touchdown pass from Mayfield to a wide open Dimitri Flowers.

K-State came right back with a 63-yard drive, mostly on quarterback run plays by sophomore backup Alex Delton. OU forced a fumble by Wildcat wide receiver Dominique Heath at the Sooner 12-yard line that halted the drive and turned the ball over to the Sooners.

Oklahoma Sooners Football
Oklahoma Sooners Football /

Oklahoma Sooners Football

Oklahoma could not find an answer to slow down the Kansas State running game in the opening half. The Wildcats came into the game averaging 148 rushing yards per game, but in the first half on Saturday they ran over, around and by the Sooner defense, scoring on three of their five first-half possessions.

And K-State might have scored on a fourth possession were in not for the forced fumble deep in OU territory.

The Sooners hurt themselves badly in the first half, missing tackles and being out of position defensively when Kansas City had the ball. OU also squandered at least three scoring opportunities in the opening half: one on a pass interception at the back of the K-State end zone and another on an Oklahoma pick off by cornerback Jordan Thomas of a pass thrown by K-State’s Delton. Thomas returned the interception inside the K-State 10-yard line, but OU had to settle for an Austin Seibert field goal.

OU also was unable to pick up a yard on two tries from the Kansas State 19-yard line late in the first half and turned the ball over on downs.

Oklahoma came out of the locker room to start the second half and played with a much different sense of urgency and fight. The Sooners took the second-half kickoff and marched 80 yards in seven plays, taking just two and a half minutes off the clock.

Meanwhile, the Sooner defense stopped the Kansas State offense on three straight possessions, allowing the Wildcat offense just 19 total yards on 11 plays.

The Sooners scored a touchdown, a field goal and a second touchdown in their first three possessions of the second half to take their first lead of the game at 28-21. The go-ahead touchdown came with less than a minute gone in the fourth quarter.

Oklahoma forced a Kansas State punt on the Wildcats’ possession after OU’s go-ahead score, but disaster struck the Sooners on their next possession. Forced to punt after a Sooner drive stalled at the OU 45-yard line, Austin Seibert mishandled the long snap allowing the ball to go over his head, and it was recovered at the Oklahoma 13-yard line, giving the stagnant Kansas State offense new life.

K-State scored in five plays, and all of a sudden the game was tied at 28 with 6:40 remaining in the game.

Cue the maestro. It was Baker Mayfield time, and the two-time Heisman finalist led OU down the field — as he has down over and over in his three seasons at the Sooner starting quarterback — covering 74 yards in just three plays, most of it picked up on a 66-yard pass to Marquise Brown.

That put Oklahoma back on top at 35-28.

K-State wasn’t finished, though. Two Alex Delton passes traveling a total of 70 yards up in the grasp of wide receiver Byron Pringle. Delton completed a five-yard pass to Isaiah Zuber for a game-tying touchdown with 2:25 left to go.

In retrospect, Kansas State should have taken more time off the clock in its final scoring drive. With almost two and a half minutes and three timeouts, that’s plenty of time for Mayfield to perform his magic and at least get the Sooners in field goal range.

Mayfield led the Sooners on a methodical 76-yard scoring drive that Anderson put the finishing touches on with his 22-yard nail in the Kansas State coffin.

The Kansas State offense torched the OU defense for 256 yards on the ground in the first half, but after halftime the Wildcats gained only 21 yards rushing total as the Sooner defense stiffened.

So the Sooners avoid a second loss that, in all likelihood, would have put an end to their championship aspirations at every level, and they survive to fight another day.

The win was OU’s 12th in its last 14 games with Kansas State and improves the Sooners’ 2017 record to 6-1. Next weekend Oklahoma is at home to host Texas Tech (4-3, 1-3).