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October 28, 2006

Sooners win a big one

Game Ticker | box score

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COLUMBIA, Mo. - Missouri mastered the art of self-destruction and paid for it with another Big 12 Conference loss to Oklahoma.

Paul Thompson passed for two touchdowns and ran for another score as 19th-ranked Oklahoma capitalized on five mistakes by the 23rd-ranked Tigers in a 26-10 victory.

Two interceptions, a fumble, a blocked punt and a roughing the kicker penalty set up every score for the Sooners (6-2, 3-1 Big 12 South), who beat Missouri for the fourth straight time and 16th time in the last 17 meetings.

"Anytime you get turnovers, that is real big, especially on the road," Thompson said. "(Missouri's mistakes) drowned out some of the crowd's energy. We got our offense on the field and took advantage by putting on the board with them (the turnovers)."

The Tigers (7-2, 3-2 North) entered in a tie for first place with Nebraska in the North Division. But before going up against the Cornhuskers next week, Missouri had to deal with another powerful conference nemesis and once again came out on the short end against Oklahoma.

Last winning a conference title in 1969 with a share of the Big Eight championship, Missouri appeared to have its best chance to beat the Sooners, who were without star running back Adrian Peterson (broken collarbone) for the second straight week.

But Allen Patrick again proved to be more than a capable replacement, producing a career-high 162 yards on 36 carries in his second start. Last week, Patrick rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown on 35 carries in a 24-3 win over Colorado.

"Offensively, I was pleased with how we ran the ball," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "I thought our line and fullbacks had an outstanding game being physical and running, and that set up some play-action passes."

But the story of the game were the four turnovers by Missouri, which had its eight-game home winning streak broken. The first two turnovers led to touchdowns for Oklahoma after the Tigers had taken a 3-0 lead on a 39-yard field goal by Jeff Wolfert just 3:24 into the game.

Missouri could have increased the lead when Chase Daniel lofted a pass down the right sideline to a wide-open Chase Coffman, but the tight end let the ball slip through his fingertips. If Coffman hauled the pass in, the play likely would have gone for a 66-yard touchdown.

"That's a big turning point right there," said Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, who is 0-3 against Oklahoma.

On the next play, a pass by Daniel was tipped and intercepted by linebacker Zach Latimer at the Missouri 33. Patrick then broke off a 14-yard run and Thompson hit Malcolm Kelly with a 12-yard pass. Three plays later, Thompson scored on a three-yard option play with 3:52 left in the first quarter.

"We've been preaching forcing turnovers and everybody's finally bringing it to the field," Latimer said.

On Missouri's next possession, Tony Temple fumbled after being hit by safety Darien Williams and cornerback Lendy Holmes recovered at the Oklahoma 42.

The Sooners then went 58 yards in six plays. Thompson hit Jermaine Gresham with a 17-yard pass before capping the drive with an 18-yard touchdown to tight end Joe Jon Finley[db] 4 seconds into the second quarter.

Just 3:04 after Oklahoma's second touchdown, [db]Jason Carter blocked a punt by Adam Crossett, who recovered it in the end zone for a safety, giving Oklahoma a 16-3 lead. The safety came after linebacker Rufus Alexander sacked Daniel for a 21-yard loss.

"You can't make the mistakes against a good football team that we made today," Pinkel said.

Missouri took advantage of a turnover by the Sooners early in the third quarter. Patrick fumbled and defensive end Xzavie Jackson recovered at the Missouri 34.

Daniel completed four passes for 36 yards and ran four times for another 30 yards, capping it with a 13-yard score on a quarterback draw with 10:22 left in the third quarter and pulling the Tigers within 16-10.

Oklahoma was forced to punt on its next possession with a 4th-and-13 at its own 17. But William Moore was called for roughing the kicker. The Sooners capitalized on that penalty, continuing a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Thompson hitting Quentin Chaney with a 15-yard touchdown with 5:02 remaining in the third quarter.

"We were fortunate and lucky to get that penalty," Stoops said. "That was a big factor in the game because they had taken the momentum from us in the second half."

Along with the mistakes, the Tigers also failed to score after having 1st-and-goal at the Oklahoma 2 late in the third quarter. Daniel gained just one yard on two quarterback draws and threw an incompletion before sailing a throw out of bounds in the right corner of the end zone on fourth down.

Daniel was intercepted twice in the fourth quarter. The first was picked off by cornerback Marcus Walker at the Missouri 13, setting up a 30-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley with 3:48 left in the fourth quarter.

"We handed it to them," said Daniel, who completed 23-of-44 passes for 284 yards and also rushed for 75 yards on 20 carries. "I don't question our effort, we played our hearts out. But it's hard to win when you have four turnovers and make as many mistakes as we did."

After winning its first six games, Missouri has lost two of its last three. The Tigers committed three turnovers in a 25-19 loss at Texas A&M two weeks ago.

"We just shot ourselves in the foot again," Missouri tight end Martin Rucker said.



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