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Injuries Strike Again, But OU Has a Winning Finish

Ryan Broyles celebrates a first quarter touchdown. (AP) Ryan Broyles celebrates a first quarter touchdown. (AP)
Bob Stoops Postgame Bob Stoops Postgame

Originally Published: Dec 31, 2009 5:37 PM CDT

More Sun Bowl coverage from Oklahoma Sports
- Andrew Luck May Play in Sun Bowl
- OU, Stanford Coordinators Discuss Opposition
- Sooners and Stanford Prepare for Battle
- Adrian Taylor Carted off Field
- For more bowl coverage, hit the lanes at the Oklahoma Sports Bowling Alley.

Vitals | Recap | Box Score

Dave Carty
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

EL PASO, Texas -- The Sun Bowl wasn’t the expected final destination. By all preseason accounts, Oklahoma playing its bowl game in El Paso, Texas was a disappointment, if an arid one.

But, considering the miles of medical tape, piles of splints and crutches, and ink used to simply write up the injury report, perseverance will ultimately define the 2009 University of Oklahoma season.

Despite being without stars Sam Bradford and Jermaine Gresham and losing a score of other contributors to injury – including Adrian Taylor and Gerald McCoy during the game – OU ended its season on a bright note, defeating Stanford 31-27 in the Brut Sun Bowl.

Taylor was lost in the first quarter to a grim leg injury and McCoy left in the game in the second half limping.

Fifth-year senior Tavita Pritchard struggled in his first start of the season.

On Stanford’s first drive, Pritchard followed an incompletion on his first throw with an interception on his second, Travis Lewis grabbing the errant pass.

That play left OU on the Stanford 30 yard line, where Landry Jones took over.

Heading into the game, Jones had his supporters and detractors, but regardless of personal stance, Jones has been tasked with replacing last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford. Amidst critical acclaim and disapproval, his performance remained largely unflappable. Under El Paso’s bright sun, Thursday’s game was no different. The OU offense sat squarely on Jones' shoulders as the running game again failed to gain yardage, getting 64 yards on 38 carries - an average of 1.7 yards.

Jones connected with Ryan Broyles for the first score of the game, a 30-yard touchdown en route to throwing for 416 yards and three touchdowns on 30-51 passing.

But, hardship was just over the horizon for the Sooners. Jones was intercepted by Bo McNally on Oklahoma’s next drive, setting up the Cardinal on OU’s 14 yard line. The short, five-play drive was capped by an Owen Marecic one-yard scamper. The extra point evened the score, 7-7.

More troubling was the leg injury suffered by defensive end Taylor, who left the game in the first quarter with a broken leg, according to Oklahoma Sports Oklahoma City Sports Director Dean Blevins. CBS chose not to replay the injury because of its gruesome nature.

The Sooners’ answered with a ten-play drive pushed by seven Jones completions. A Patrick O’Hara 28-yard field goal gave OU a 10-7 lead heading into the second quarter.

In the second quarter, the Cardinal would make its mark.

The Sooners failed to capitalize on a Quinton Carter interception and were forced to punt. Tress Way’s punt was blocked, resulting in a 24-yard scoring drive for Stanford. Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart banged in the touchdown on a 19-yard run.

Gerhart grabbed 133 yards on 32 carries in another strong performance against Oklahoma’s revered but banged-up defensive line.

Pritchard, getting the start in place of the injured Andrew Luck, struggled all game, recording just 118 passing yards and two interceptions.

Stanford’s 14-10 lead wouldn’t last long. OU blasted back with a seven-play, 93-yard drive highlighted by five Jones completions, including a 13-yarder to Broyles that put OU back on top 17-14.

Sure enough, Stanford would answer back for the game’s third-straight scoring drive. Again, it would be the prolific Gerhart, running 16 yards for the score. On the play, he briefly fumbled before the goal line, but recovered to punch in the score and put Stanford up 24-17 going into the half.

Before the Sun Bowl, the most-recent second-half comeback from the Sooners came back on November 11, 2006. In that game, Bob Stoops and company rallied to take down Texas Tech in Norman, 34-24. Like this game, OU was down 24-17 at the half in that game.

In the second half, OU came out of the game with a clear mission: throw the ball and throw it often.

The red-shirt freshman Jones attempted seven passes, completing five while running the ball just once. Jones final attempt results in the third touchdown pass to Broyles. This touchdown, from six yards out, put Broyles over 100 yards receiving and tied the game 24-24.

Broyles finished the game with 156 yards, 3 touchdowns and 13 catches – breaking the old single-game record for receptions held by Juaquin Iglesias (12).

The teams swapped scoreless drives before the Sooners struck again. DeMarco Murray pushed through a one-yard touchdown and put the Sooners back on top 31-24.

Despite the absences of Brian Jackson and Adrian Taylor, OU shut down Stanford in the third quarter, limited the Cardinal to 35 yards and forcing four punts.

To start the fourth quarter, Cardinal kicker Nate Whitaker booted through a 21-yard field goal to narrow the gap 31-27.

Later in the fourth, Oklahoma embarked on a 17-play clock-gobbling drive that, in the end, proved fruitless. Despite draining six minutes off the clock, a 32-yard field goal miss by O’Hara kept the lead at four.

A false start penalty hindered Stanford’s chances ultimately resulting in a fourth down prayer of a pass that went unanswered, resulting in a turnover on downs and an OU victory.

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