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No. 11 Sooners hang on to beat Texas

Oct 11, 2014 - 9:22 PM Dallas, TX ( - It took more than two quarters for Oklahoma to score an offensive touchdown against Texas on Saturday.

Despite that, the Sooners only trailed for 12 seconds.

That's how long Alex Ross needed to return a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to put the No. 11 Sooners on top for good.

Zack Sanchez added a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first half and Oklahoma held on down the stretch for a 31-26 win over Texas at the Cotton Bowl.

The Sooners (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) bounced back from last week's loss at TCU to win the Red River rivalry game for the fourth time in five years, the only blemish being last season's 16-point loss to an underdog Longhorns squad.

The Longhorns (2-4, 1-2) cut a 31-13 deficit to five points on quarterback Tyrone Swoopes' 12-yard touchdown with five minutes left, but blew a timeout on the two-point conversion try, which failed, and only had one left on Oklahoma's last drive.

The Sooners burned all but 18 seconds of the remaining time before punting.

Oklahoma fell seven spots in the Associated Press poll following last week's 37-33 loss in Fort Worth and didn't have an offensive touchdown against Texas until Trevor Knight threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard with 4:17 left in the third quarter.

Knight said the pass gave them some much-needed momentum.

"We sputtered there in the first half. We just couldn't get things going," he said. "It's about finding that momentum and starting off that way. We want to start fast on offense, and we didn't do that today, but I felt like there in the second half we picked it up and I'm just really proud of our guys for doing that. We got some big scores down the stretch."

Knight passed for 129 yards and Samaje Perine had a 13-yard touchdown run that gave the Sooners their 31-13 lead with 12:50 remaining.

Swoopes completed 27 of his 44 passes for 334 yards and a pair of touchdown throws to John Harris, but the Longhorns committed 11 penalties for 85 yards -- most of them coming early on.

"In the first half it was the penalties, it was the kickoff return, the kicking game, the interception for the touchdown, the mistakes that we made," said Texas coach Charlie Strong. "We battled back ... Overall (I'm) just very pleased with the way we played today. We just can't give away opportunities against a good football team."

Nick Rose kicked two field goals for the Longhorns, including a 28-yarder on their first possession, and was the only player with a shot to tackle Ross on the ensuing kickoff. He went for the legs and barely slowed him down.

Ross, the nation's leading kickoff returner, was otherwise untouched after fielding the ball on the right side and cutting through the middle of the porous Texas coverage for his second return touchdown of the season.

"Just read the blocks and took it to the house," said Ross. "When you play with speed like that, good things happen."

Texas had seven penalties by the first play of the second quarter. One of them -- a hold on Harris -- allowed Swoopes to get free for a lumbering 73-yard run that was called back late in the first quarter.

After Michael Hunnicutt kicked a 44-yard field goal for Oklahoma, Sanchez stepped in front of Jacorey Warrick near the right sideline to intercept Swoopes and cut through the middle of the field for a touchdown to give the Sooners a 17-3 lead.

Texas pulled within 17-13 before halftime on Swoopes' 38-yard touchdown pass to Harris over the middle and Rose's 20-yard field goal.

The first six drives in the third quarter ended in punts before Knight found Shepard open between two defenders for a 24-yard touchdown pass to give the Sooners a 24-13 lead.

Texas avoided a disaster after punter William Russ let a high snap go through his hands toward the end zone. Russ got off a 25-yard kick to midfield and the Sooners didn't score.

Later, after Perine's touchdown, Texas responded by going 75 yards, much of it taken up by Marcus Johnson's 41-yard reception. An initial touchdown was called back because of an illegal formation penalty, but Harris made a toe- dragging catch in the left side of the end zone on Swoopes' 6-yard pass.

Swoopes' 12-yard run around the left drew Texas within five points with 4:57 left, but the quarterback was stopped on a two-point conversion try that came after the Longhorns blew a timeout when they couldn't get to the line in time.

Game Notes

Jaxon Shipley led all receivers with nine catches for 115 yards. Harris had five grabs for 90 yards and Johnson made seven catches for 93 yards. Texas' Malcolm Brown led all players with 78 yards rushing on 19 carries and Perine had 62 yards on 18 runs ... Oklahoma faces Kansas State next week and Texas plays Iowa State.