By Michael Kinney
NORMAN – As Brendan Radley-Hiles strolled into the endzone and stared up at the screaming fans, the biggest play of his college career was not the only thing on his mind. Even though the sophomore safety had helped keep Oklahoma’s season alive, he had other things on his mind as well.
Radley-Hiles, also known as Bookie, closed out the Sooners 28-24 win over TCU Saturday with an interception in the final seconds at Memorial Stadium.
“All I could think about was my cousin. My cousin recently passed away,” Radley-Hiles said. “His funeral was today and I wasn’t able to go. So I felt as if that play right there was just him playing through me.”
The victory secured a spot in the Big 12 Championship game and still keeps them in position to snag a third straight trip to the College Football Playoffs.
“Great win,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln said. “This one was significant for so many reasons. What they have an opportunity to do in the next couple of weeks is very special. Rare even for a place like this.”
With just over three minutes left in the game, Oklahoma had the ball and a 4th and one situation on the 40-yard line. Leading by four points, Riley decided to go for it, but they got stuffed and turned the ball over on downs.
TCU took over with 3:16 left to make it down the field for the go-ahead score. However, the Horned Frogs found themselves with their own fourth down call.
It was a no-brainer for TCU coach Gary Patterson as they needed to pick up the 4th and 11 if they had any chance of stealing the win.
Freshman quarterback Max Duggan dropped back to pass and had plenty of time to spot a receiver. He tried to hit his man over the middle, but Radley-Hiles picked off Duggan to end the threat.
Radley Hiles then led a caravan of Sooners down into the endzone to celebrate and pose for the fans.
“For Bookie to come up with a play like that it’s huge because you know that completely changed the momentum of the game,” cornerback Patrick Fields said. “You know it’s a good thing because we see kind of all of our hard work paying off with a play like that.”
Despite the third dramatic win in as many weeks, Oklahoma once again realize they are putting themselves in a position to lose these games.
One of the biggest issues was turnovers. They gave the ball away three times to TCU. That included two from quarterback Jalen Hurts in the fourth quarter. Both were in the redzone.
“I am not going to say that we do not have to do better with that,” Riley said. “A guy that is handling the ball making as many decisions that he has to make, you obviously don’t want to have the one down in the red zone.”
Hurts finished the night with 145 yards passing and two touchdowns on 11 of 21 passing. He also accounted for 192 yards rushing and another two scores on 28 carries.
Kennedy Brooks tallied 149 yards on 25 carries. Charleston Rambo led all receivers with 77 yards on six catches. After sitting out last week, CeeDee Lamb had only two catches, but one was for a touchdown
“We’re appreciating (tough wins) but at the same time we want to win in a better style than what we’re doing right now,” Rambo said. “Four points is not the best but it’s hard to get a win regardless so we came out on top.”
Oklahoma started the night with the textbook opening possession. Behind some big runs from Brooks, Hurts lunged into the endzone to cap a 10 play, 7-yard scoring drive.
Oklahoma came back on their next possession to put together a five-play drive that ended with Hurts connecting with Brayden Willis for a 20- yard touchdown pass.
Oklahoma held a 14-0 advantage after the first quarter. That included outgaining the Horned Frogs 183-3 in the opening 15 minutes.
Yet, Oklahoma wasn’t done. They start the second quarter with another long drive right through the middle of the TCU defense. But this time it was Lamb who ended up in the endzone after catching a 5-yard touchdown.
It was Lamb’s 32nd career touchdown catch, which moved him into second all-time in program history.
With Oklahoma leading 21-0, they were forced to punt for the first time early in the second quarter. On TCU made the Sooners pay with a 68-yard drive that put them on the board with a 1 TD run.
After a fumble by Oklahoma freshman Jadon Haselwood near midfield, TCU had to settle for a 24-yard field goal and closed the deficit to 21-10 at halftime.
After the Horned Frogs began the second half with a touchdown drive, the pressure was on the Soone.rs Not wanting to see a Baylor style collapse, they needed a response.
That is exactly what they got. Hurts carried half the TCU defense into the endzone to close out a six-play possession, which put the Sooners up by 11.
Oklahoma was driving deep into the Horned Frogs territory looking to go up by 18 points. However, Hurts threw an INT that was picked off at the 2-yard line and returned 98 yards for the score, which closed the gap to four points.
“Well you don’t ever want to turn the ball over, especially in the redzone,” Hurts said. “It happens. Just gotta learn from it and move forward.”
Next up for the Sooners is their regular-season finale. Saturday OU makes a trip to Stillwater for Bedlam against a surging Oklahoma State (8-3) squad.
“Right now all the focus is going to go towards Bedlam and Oklahoma State. Going into Stillwater with a lot of goals intact,” Riley said. “It is exciting. I still know that our best ball is out there and our team feels like that too. We are going to go try to work our tails off and put it all together.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider