Sooners Escape El Paso With First Win Of Season
EL PASO, Texas - The Oklahoma Sooners went down to El Paso, Texas looking for an easy win to the start their 2012 season. Instead, the Sooners got everything they wanted and then some from the UTEP Miners, skipping town with a 24-7 victory over the Miners Saturday night.
Landry Jones was 21-36 for 222 yards and two touchdowns, including an 18-yard pass to Brannon Green that gave OU a 10-point lead with 10 minutes to play.
Damien Williams rushed for 104 yards for OU, with a 65-yard touchdown run in the final minutes putting the game away for the Sooners.
Nathan Jeffery ran for 177 yards for UTEP, just the 15th 100-yard rusher for the Miners in a season opener since 1950. The Miners gained just 255 yards for the game and didn't score on offense, missing three field goals.
The start of the game couldn't have been any worse for OU. UTEP took the opening kickoff and drove 58 yards on nine plays, racking up yards in chunks. The drive would end in a missed field goal, but the drive was cause for concern for OU.
The Miners broke through shortly after that, bull-rushing punter Tress Way and blocking OU's first punt of the night. Jeffery picked up the ball and scampered 24 yards to give UTEP a stunning 7-0 lead.
After a three-and-out for each team, the Sooners were faced with a 3rd and 11 from their own 32-yard line. Jones, moving around in the pocket, found Kenny Stills down the sideline, and hit him in stride for the touchdown, tying the score at 7-7. Stills had six catches for 121 yards.
From that point on, the Sooner defense stiffened and continued to keep the Miners out of the end zone. The Miners finished the half with 109 total yards, gaining just 51 after the opening drive. However, the Sooner offense continued to struggle, unable to find any sort of rhythm. Jones was erratic, completing just 12-23 passes in the first half.
After the break, the Sooners took the kickoff and marched down the field, but the drive eventually stalled out, and OU settled for a 38-yard Michael Hunnicutt field goal to take a 10-7 lead. That would be all the scoring for the quarter, with UTEP wasting a long, 71-yard burst by Jeffery by missing its third field goal of the night.
With 13:33 to play, UTEP faced a 4th and 7 from their own 38-yard line, but inexplicably decided to go for a fake punt to convert the first down. The Sooners stuffed the Miners, and eight plays later, Jones found Green for the score that gave OU a 17-7 lead.