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OU football: Chaotic field rush, controversial field goal cap No. 8 Oklahoma’s season-upending loss at No. 13 Baylor

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Baylor fans

Baylor fans storm the field after the game against No. 13 Baylor in Waco on Nov. 13.

WACO — Lincoln Riley tried to rip surging field-rushers off junior linebacker David Ugwoegbu as a sea of green and gold engulfed John Eddie Williams Field.

With three seconds remaining in No. 8 Oklahoma’s game against No. 13 Baylor, McLane Stadium plunged into pandemonium as Bears supporters stormed the playing surface prematurely to celebrate an upset victory.

Three plays earlier, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on outside linebacker Marcus Stripling nullified a field goal by Baylor kicker Isaiah Hankins and the Bears knelt twice before wanting to try again. Most of OU’s players had already retreated to the locker room, and those remaining were left to grapple with what Riley later called a “safety issue.”

Ushers and the PA announcer worked to corral the crowd, forcing it to the sidelines for one last play. Baylor should’ve received a 15-yard penalty for the field-storming, but it was never assessed and Riley said officials never explained why. Riley told the referees he’d rather not return his team to the field, but they insisted. He later had to wrestle outside linebackers coach Jamar Cain away from a heated conversation with an official. Ultimately, OU trotted out 11 players to defend the kick, Hankins threaded the field goal through the uprights as time expired and Baylor (8-2, 5-2 Big 12) prevailed over the Sooners (9-1, 6-1) for just the fourth time in program history, 27-14.

The defeat is also OU’s first in November under Riley and lands like a suckerpunch to the Sooners’ College Football Playoff aspirations.

“I don't believe that situation was handled well by a lot of people, but at the end of the day, doing it with class is important to me,” Riley said of the final minutes. “And at the end of the day, that's why we decided to bring 11 guys out, even though deep down, I damn sure didn't want to.”

Baylor’s Dave Aranda said afterward he wanted the three additional points to assist his team with the Big 12 Conference tiebreaker and acknowledged OU isn’t “happy with it.” The second-year head coach, who held Oklahoma to 28 points as LSU’s defensive coordinator in 2019 and 27 points with Baylor in 2020, contained the Sooners’ offense on Saturday to 260 yards and 14 points — both Riley-era lows.

“I know why Dave tried to kick the field goal,” Riley said. “I don't agree with it. I still think above all else, there's a code of sportsmanship that I believe in. I wouldn't have done it, but that's his decision, it’s his football team. How the officials don't enforce a 15-yard penalty when you’ve probably got 5,000 people on the field is unbelievable to me. ... That's the officials' decision. I don't agree with it, but it’s part of it.”

From the beginning, Oklahoma seemed off-kilter offensively. The Sooners’ first three drives resulted in a punt, interception by freshman quarterback Caleb Williams and a missed field goal by redshirt junior kicker Gabe Brkic, who missed a pair of kicks in a game for the first time in his career.

Williams, who as of Friday boasted the nation’s fifth-best Heisman Trophy odds, finally played like a mortal freshman instead of the “Superman” who saved OU against Texas on Oct. 9. He tossed two interceptions, tripling his season total, and was hampered after a Baylor defender stepped on his hand following a 19-yard run in the second quarter.

Looking for an offensive jolt, Riley replaced Williams with redshirt sophomore backup Spencer Rattler, the preseason Heisman favorite, for two drives in the third quarter. Oklahoma punted on both before Williams re-entered and led a touchdown drive capped by redshirt junior running back Kennedy Brooks’ 1-yard rush.

“In my opinion, the offense wasn’t as bad as what the outside may seem, but in terms of the inconsistency, we had too many plays where it’s one or two guys blowing their job,” said redshirt senior H-back Jeremiah Hall. “We acknowledged that at halftime and thought we'd be able to correct it in the second half, but we never did and it came back to bite us in the butt.”

OU’s defense kept it in the game, largely thanks to redshirt junior linebacker Brian Asamoah, who shined with 10 tackles — 1.5 for loss — and a forced fumble recovered by outside linebacker Nik Bonitto. Senior safety Delarrin Turner-Yell also snagged an interception, but the Sooners struggled to pressure Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon with just one sack, and allowed 413 total yards — 296 on the ground.

“Speed D'' began to unravel after a strange start to the third quarter. Brkic’s kickoff sailed out of bounds, then Bohanon sprung a 28-yard run on the second half’s first play. Baylor was held to a field goal on that drive, but opened the door to later break a 75-yard run and score back-to-back touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

“We got lazy with our communication,” Turner-Yell said. “We didn’t really have a respect for what finishing was, and if you look at it, it seems as if Baylor had finishing on their minds, and it looks as if we didn’t. We can never fall into that trap where we get comfortable with our communication or fail to finish a football game, because when you fail to finish a football game, things like that happen.”

Before the loss, OU controlled its destiny in the College Football Playoff race, but must now overcome a tough Iowa State matchup and Bedlam against No. 10 Oklahoma State to simply reach the Big 12 Championship Game, much less a national semifinal bowl. However, it’s not uncharted territory for the Sooners, who’ve slipped once in the regular season all four years they’ve made the CFP.

“That's the advantage of winning your first nine games ... you do set yourself up to be able to overcome something like this,” Riley said. “I’m disappointed, obviously, that we have to overcome it, but it is what it is, and so we’ll bounce back like we always do and like we fully expect to.”

As the OU locker room lay quiet and somber after a crushing defeat, Riley’s message to his players was clear.

“He told us that this game is going to do either two things to this team,” Turner-Yell said. “It is going to tear us apart or it's gonna bring us together. … We have a lot of football in front of us. We still have the things we want to accomplish this year in front of us, so it's very important that we put this game to bed and that we attack the practice field next week and just do things that we need to do in order for us to finish out strong this season.”

Sports editor

Mason Young is the OU Daily's sports editor and covers OU football. He was previously assistant sports editor and has covered women's gym, wrestling and former Sooners in the NFL. Email Mason at masyoung@ou.edu and follow him on Twitter @Mason_Young_0

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