Oklahoma football: Sooners send Horns down in 4 overtimes, 53-45

One of these days the Oklahoma football team has to learn that games are not over until they’re over.

When this year’s annual rivalry game with Texas was over, however, it was the Sooners planting their flag at the 50-yard line in the Cotton Bowl.

The Sooners let a 14-point advantage over Texas get away over the final five minutes of the 116th edition of the Red River rivalry on Saturday and then had to endure four overtime sessions before finally putting the Longhorns away, 53-45.

It seemed almost fitting in this sideways year of the COVID-19 pandemic that this game would be one of the most bizarre in the longtime rivalry series between these two college football blue bloods.

Oklahoma scored 14 unanswered points in a third quarter totally dominated by the Sooners to break a 14-14 halftime tie. Just when it appeared OU was about to put the game away, Texas, led by its four-year quarterback starter and team leader, Sam Ehlinger, roared back with a couple of scoring drives and a punch in the mouth to an Oklahoma defense that easily had played its best game of the season.

All of a sudden, the game was right back where things had started, all knotted up at 31 and headed to an extra session.

Oklahoma football wins for 7th time in last 10 games against Texas

In the overtime, both teams scored touchdowns on their first two possession and after Texas kicker Cameron Dicker missed a 33-yard field goal, Oklahoma’s Gabe Brkic surprisingly missed a 31-yarder that would have won the game. Instead, the game went to a 4th OT session.

In its fourth possession in overtime, Sooner freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler hit Drake Stoops on a 25-yard TD pass and OU added a two-point conversion on a pass from Rattler to Theo Wease to take a 53-45 lead.

Texas moved the ball to the Oklahoma 9-yard line in its corresponding possession following the Oklahoma TD, but a holding penalty moved the ball back to 19-yard line. On a 2nd-down-and-goal, Ehlinger’s pass to the end zone was intercepted by senior Sooner cornerback Tre Brown, ending the nearly four-and-a-half-hour game and giving Oklahoma its second win of the season.

Rattler was 25 for 35 passing in his first Red River rivalry game for 209 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw a first-half interception and turned the ball over to Texas on a fumble in the second quarter. Overall, Rattler accounted for 260 yards of offense and three touchdowns. After his fumble, the first-year Sooner starter was removed from the game and replaced by backup Tanner Mordecai, who finished out the half.

The Oklahoma running game, which had been average at best in back-to-back losses to Kansas State and Iowa State, broke out the heavy lumber against Texas, amassing 208 yards on 55 running plays. Junior T.J. Pledger led the Sooner ground game with 131 yards on 22 carries and an average of almost six yards per carry.

Wease, a sophomore, led the Sooner receivers with eight catches for 52 yards and fellow sophomore, tight end Austin Stogner had six receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Ehlinger, who nearly led the Longhorns all the way back in the closing minutes of regulation had a stellar game of his own, accounting for 399 yards of Texas’ 428 total yards (287 passing and a career-high 112 rushing) and six touchdowns (two passing and four rushing).

Back and forth offensive mistakes led to a sloppy first half. Most of the first-half scoring was the result of turnovers. OU led 10-0 after one quarter and 17-10 in the second before Texas scored a touchdown right before the half to send the teams to the locker room tied at 17.

Both Oklahoma and Texas were guilty of three turnovers each in the game and there were 21 penalties called for a total of 207 yards (10 for 106 yards on Oklahoma and 11 for 101 yards on Texas).

This was the highest-scoring gamed in the history of the Red River rivalry and the first four-overtime game in the history of both programs.

Lincoln Riley now has a 4-1 record as head coach of the Sooners against the Longhorns. Ehlinger’s record in five games against Oklahoma is just the opposite.

Oklahoma is now off for a week before heading out on the road again on Oct. 17 for a game at TCU.