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Big Plays Ignite Sooners In Rout Of Iowa State

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

It was a tale of two halves Saturday in Norman. For 28 minutes, the Oklahoma Sooners looked like the team that was 1-8 instead of their counterparts, Iowa State. The Sooners trailed, 10-3 and had been dominated in all phases of the game. Then the good things began happening.

Jalen Saunders returned a punt 91 yards for a touchdown with 1:09 left in the first half to set off a scoring avalanche for the Sooners as No. 18 Oklahoma routed Iowa State, 48-10 on Senior Day. 

The Sooners scored four touchdowns on plays of 50 or more yards to give coach Bob Stoops win No. 157 of his career, tying him with legendary OU coach Barry Switzer as the Sooners' career leader in wins.

The Oklahoma offense struggled mightily in the first half, putting up just three points and gaining a mere 110 yards. In the third quarter, everything changed. The Sooners put up 209 yards on the ground alone and blew the game open with a pair of 60+ yard touchdown runs from Damien Williams (69 yards) and Brennan Clay (63 yards) that put Oklahoma up 27-10. Williams added a 19-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that pushed the lead to 41-10 and finished with a game-high 128 yards on 10 carries. Clay finished with seven carries for 86 yards.

However, the most interesting part of Saturday's game was who ended up behind center for all of the offense's success. Starter Blake Bell took a shot in the head from Iowa State linebacker Willie Scott early in the second quarter and left the game. That brought in Trevor Knight, who began the season as the starter for the Sooners before losing his job against West Virginia in the second game of the year.

Knight wasn't spectacular, but his speedy running style put the Cyclone defense on its heels. Knight finished the game just 8-of-14 for 61 yards passing, but ran for 123 yards on just 10 carries, including a 56-yard touchdown run to start the fourth quarter that pushed the OU lead to 34-10.

The Sooners finished the game with 405 rushing yards, the third time this season Oklahoma has rushed for more than 300 yards and the most in the Bob Stoops era. In all three of those games, Knight played the most time at quarterback for the Sooners. The Iowa State run defense came into the game giving up 209 yards on the ground per game this season, 102nd in the nation and dead last in the Big 12. However, the Sooners only ran for 66 yards in the first half, compared to 339 yards in the second half.

It was a tale of two halves for the Oklahoma defense as well. The Sooners allowed Iowa State to gain 198 yards and 12 first downs in the first half. That included 101 passing yards for Iowa State's Grant Rohach, who was playing in just his 5th game of the season.

In the second half, the Sooners buckled down, sacking Rohach four times and limiting the Cyclones to just 93 yards and no points.

With the Sooners up 41-10 in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma fans finally got their wish and saw quarterback Kendal Thompson take some snaps. Thompson was very efficient in leading the Sooners down the field, capping the drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Ripkowski. Thompson finished 2-for-4 for 47 yards and 21 rushing yards on two carries.

The Sooners finish the season on the road, traveling to take on Kansas State next week before taking on Oklahoma State in Stillwater Dec. 7.

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