Sooners bounce back to beat Kansas
Oklahoma wide receiver Sterling Shepard (3) scores a touchdown past Kansas linebacker Victor Simmons (27) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) Photo: Image by AP
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Blake Bell threw for 131 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 18 Oklahoma finally awoke from its Red River rout hangover to beat lowly Kansas 34-19 on Saturday.
The Sooners (6-1, 3-1 Big 12), whose national championship aspirations were cast aside by Texas last weekend, stumbled through the first quarter and found themselves in a 13-0 hole.
But behind Bell's steady play, a stingy pass defense and a 49-yard touchdown toss from wide receiver Lacoltan Bester to Sterling Shepard on an end-around play, the Sooners scored 25 straight points on their way to winning their ninth straight over the Jayhawks.
It was Oklahoma's 15th straight win the week after playing the Longhorns.
James Sims ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns for Kansas (2-4, 0-3), but he didn't have much help. Jake Heaps was just 5 of 13 for 16 yards passing, the fewest yards through the air for Kansas since throwing for 15 yards in a loss to Nebraska in 2010.
On a couple occasions, Heaps was benched for freshman Montell Cozart, who had his redshirt taken away by coach Charlie Weis. Cozart didn't attempt a pass.
The Jayhawks tried to make it interesting in the fourth quarter, when they blocked a punt deep in Oklahoma territory. Sims promptly scored from 6 yards out to pull them within 25-19, but the extra point was blocked and returned by Aaron Colvin to give the Sooners two points.
Oklahoma, which has won 21 straight following a loss, promptly went 75 yards the other direction. Damien Williams finished the drive with a short TD run with 4:19 left to seal the win.
The defeat was the 24th straight in league play for the Jayhawks, who still haven't beaten a Big 12 foe since knocking off former member Colorado on Nov. 6, 2010.
Early on, it looked as if they might finally put an end to that streak.
The Sooners still seemed to be smarting from last weekend's 36-20 loss at the Cotton Bowl when Kansas forced them to punt on their first series. Sims then carried eight times for 63 yards on a drive that ended when Heaps hit Jimmay Mundine from a yard out for a 7-0 lead.
Kansas stuffed Bell and the Oklahoma offense in the early going, and they got the ball back late in the first quarter. This time, Darrian Miller ripped off a 38-yard run, and Kansas took advantage of a pass interference penalty before Sims scampered 11 yards for a 13-0 lead.
That's when everything started to unravel.
The Sooners got within 13-6 on Bell's 16-yard touchdown toss to Jaz Reynolds, and then Weis elected to take the redshirt off Cozart. The freshman quarterback went backward 11 yards in his first three plays under center, and the Jayhawks were forced to punt.
Oklahoma came after it and blocked it through the end zone for a safety. On the Sooners' next offensive play, Bester took an end-around and threw a 49-yard strike to Shepard, who had beaten Jayhawks cornerback Dexter McDonald, for a soul-crushing touchdown and a 15-13 lead.
Michael Hunnicutt's 37-yard field goal extended the advantage just before halftime.
The Sooners threatened to put the game out of reach in the third quarter when Shepard hauled in his second TD pass, this time from Bell. But the Jayhawks kept within striking distance heading into the fourth quarter, when Oklahoma managed to finally put it away.
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