OKLAHOMA 44, Air Force 3

Saturday, September 1st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) _ Quentin Griffin ran for a career-best 201 yards and quarterback Nate Hybl had mixed results for the second straight week as No. 3 Oklahoma beat Air Force 44-3 on Saturday.

Hybl, making his second career start, was 14-of-31 for 161 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw an interception inside the Air Force 20 but was aided by Griffin, place-kicker Tim Duncan and an overwhelming defense.

The defending national champion Sooners (2-0) forced four turnovers and held Air Force (0-1) to 249 total yards en route to their 15th straight victory.

Air Force quarterback Keith Boyea had a tough time in his first career start. He ran for 80 yards on 19 careers but consistently overthrew his receivers, completing 11 of 23 passes for 112 yards.

Oklahoma native Bryan Blew replaced Boyea with Air Force trailing 23-3 in the fourth quarter.

Playing with a big lead, the Sooners handed the ball to Griffin throughout the second half, and he responded with 144 yards on 17 carries.

He went over the 200-yard mark with a 3-yard touchdown run four seconds after Antonio Perkins intercepted Blew's pass with 7:32 remaining. Griffin, whose previous career-high was 123 yards, became the 32nd Oklahoma back to rush for 200 yards.

Air Force, which ranked third nationally with 295 yards rushing per game last year, managed only 137 yards on the ground and lost its home opener for just the third time in 18 games under coach Fisher DeBerry.

Facing a service academy team for the first time since 1965, led 20-3 at the half and then pulled away with 24 points in the fourth quarter.

Rocky Calmus intercepted a pass by Boyea, setting up a 26-yard field goal 14 seconds into the fourth, and Hybl threw an 8-yard TD pass to Mark Clayton six minutes later.

After Griffin's touchdown with 7:28 left, Cory Heinecke picked up a fumble by freshman quarterback Chance Harridge and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown with 1:24 remaining.

Oklahoma, coming off a season-opening victory over North Carolina, built a 17-point halftime lead on two field goals by Duncan, a 2-yard touchdown run by Hybl and Trent Smith's 13-yard TD catch.

Air Force scored its only points on a 63-yard drive that resulted in a 35-yard field goal by Brooks Walters.