A play needed to be made.
That’s all senior cornerback Tre Brown could tell himself during the fourth overtime of the Sooners’ 53-45 win over Texas (2-2, 1-2 Big 12) on Saturday.
“I wanted to be the one to do it,” Brown said of finishing off a chief rival who entered the game averaging a nation-leading 51 points per game. “This was my last (Red River Showdown) ... I was like, ‘I gotta make this play.’”
And he did exactly that. To seal Oklahoma’s first conference win of the regular season, Brown jumped in front of Texas wide receiver Joshua Moore to come down with a game-ending interception in the endzone on the final play of the game.
“I got in front of my guy and got my head turned around to look for the play, because you never know what's going to come,” he said. “As soon as I got my head around, I saw the ball coming. It wasn’t coming to my guy … but I was like, ‘I’m gonna go make this play’ and I ran in front of it.
“I just jumped in front of him and made the catch.”
Brown’s play capped a rollercoaster performance from the Sooner defense. After holding the Longhorns’ scoreless in the third quarter, Oklahoma (2-2, 1-2 Big 12) allowed 14 unanswered points in the last 3:28 of regulation, forcing the first overtime in the Red River Showdown since 1996.
“(I’m) proud of their effort and so proud that they can enjoy a win based on that effort, but we have to do a better job executing for four quarters,” defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said. “And there's no scenario that that's not the case moving forward.”
The sudden shift of momentum came as a big — and familiar — hit to the Sooners. In the second half in its previous two games, Oklahoma gave up 24 unanswered points to Kansas State and 14 unanswered to Iowa State. Those experiences, though trying for fans and players alike, prepared the Sooners to weather an overtime storm that was historic.
“Throughout the game, we knew we were going to (face) adversities,” redshirt freshman safety Woodi Washington said. “It’s something we talked about all week. All year, really. We stuck to the bottom line … we just kept fighting.”
Before Texas managed to force overtime, Washington came down with what appeared to be a game-clinching interception in the fourth quarter before the Longhorns rallied. Though Washington’s didn’t end up having the same impact that Brown’s interception did, both players believed Oklahoma wouldn’t have won with the aggressiveness they demonstrated.
“We preach turnovers, (they) were something we needed,” Washington said. “It’s part of the game. It was part of our execution.”
The Sooners finished with three forced turnovers on the day, their best against an FBS opponent since 2017 against Oklahoma State.
OU’s other takeaway came off a forced fumble from redshirt sophomore linebacker Brian Asamoah. On top of that, sophomore linebacker David Ugwoegbu blocked a punt and junior defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey blocked a field goal.
“We have great coaches who make an emphasis on not just playing two sides of the ball,” Ugwoegbu said. “(We) incorporate special teams as being just as important as offense or defense.
“We’ve seen other teams (making plays on special teams) to us. We practiced and put so much time into it that it was to the point of (frustration) ... but today, we were able to come out on that side and it felt great.”
Oklahoma also sacked Longhorn quarterback Sam Ehlinger six times, a year after recording nine sacks against the Longhorns.
Still, Ehlinger did his damage. He had 287 passing yards and two touchdowns on 30-of-53 passing attempts. He also added 112 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
“We did a little bit of a better job corralling Sam at the end,” head coach Lincoln Riley said. “He’s tough, man. The thing that really hurt us there in the fourth quarter was obviously his scrambles. And that’s the toughest thing in football to defend. … It took a lot of guts to do what we did. We made some really competitive plays on the ball.
“We had a lot of guys that were hurting, a lot of guys that were just absolutely gassed and everybody was just begging to go back in the game. I just think that says a lot about our culture and toughness, and just how much the (players) were ready to fight tonight.”
Though the win saw Oklahoma surrender its most allowed points in a single game this season — and the most points ever scored in a Red River Showdown — Grinch is adamant this game will serve as a learning curve for the Sooners.
“I hope (this helps) our guys to realize that at no moment the game (is) over. You're never winning, you're never losing, it's you win ultimately (when) the scoreboard goes to zeros. … That's what you're in it for.
"I'm not sure I can give you a completely accurate description of what this (win) means. (But), obviously, it's huge.”