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Oklahoma 37, Alabama 27: Postgame Notes & Quotes


Saturday, September 07, 2002

Brooks Daniels
Brooks Daniels

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* No. 3 ranked Oklahoma scored two late fourth quarter touchdowns to beat Alabama 37-27 Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.  It was the first regular season meeting between these two college football giants.  Oklahoma's 10-point win was their first in the brief three-game series.  The other two meetings took place in the 1963 Orange Bowl (Alabama, 17-0) and the 1970 Astro Bluebonnet Bowl (TIE, 24-24).

* Alabama fell behind 23-3 at halftime and nearly staged one of the greatest comebacks in school history as the Crimson Tide led 27-23 with less than four minutes to play in the game.

* Since 1977, Alabama now has a 9-6 (.600) record against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 5.  The 9-6 ledger includes three wins over the nation's No.1 ranked team.

* The game featured several unusual plays for the Crimson Tide, including two on-side kicks (both recovered by UA), two blocked punts, one blocked punt return (Lance Taylor) and a fake FG resulting in a touchdown (3-yard run by Lane Bearden).

* Redshirt freshman quarterback Brodie Croyle got his first collegiate experience this afternoon when he got into today's game with 3:27 remaining in the second quarter.  He completed his first collegiate pass (a 7-yarder to Sam Collins) with 3:13 remaining.

* Several "firsts" occurred today.  Here is a listing:

  • Junior Lance Taylor blocked Oklahoma's Blake Ferguson's punt in the first quarter, the Tide's first blocked punt of the season and the first since Dec. 27, 2001 when Waine Bacon and Marc Miller blocked an Iowa State punt in the Independence Bowl.  He got his first career touchdown when he picked-up a blocked punt and ran it into the end zone with 1:53 left in the third quarter.
  • Oklahoma scored a safety when punter Lane Bearden kicked the ball out of the end zone, the first opponent safety since Nov. 11, 1995 when the ball was snapped out of the end zone against Mississippi State.
  • Alabama's Waine Bacon blocked Trey DiCarlo's field goal attempt in the first quarter today, marking the first block since Oct. 14, 2000 when ictor Ellis blocked an Ole Miss Field goal attempt.
  • Roberto McBride earned his first career start today and quarterback Brodie Croyle and defensive back David Scott saw their first duty in an Alabama uniform.        
  • Wide receiver Zach Fletcher caught his first career, pass, and a 12-yarder from Tyler Watts with 12:24 left in the third quarter.   Fletcher played junior college football with OU defenders Lance Mitchell and Pasha Jackson.  The trio starred at City College of San Francisco and posted a 24-0 two-year record and won back-to-back national titles.

*Alabama makes its Bryant-Denny Stadium de but next Saturday as it hosts North Texas in a 6 p.m. game in Tuscaloosa.


Alabama Head Coach Dennis Franchione

"It is never any fun being on the short end of a game like this, but we bounced back from the first half and fought hard.  I believe that we should have won that game.  However, we had a great game plan and really dominated the second half.  I tip my hat to Oklahoma for the game they played today because they played like a true champion and made one extra play.  It was a hard fought, physical game between two tradition-rich teams."

On the fake field goal and onside kick:

"They were both in our game plan that we prepared for all week.  We had them very calculated and I felt we made a good call and were very prepared for it.  I told our kids when we were on our way here that we were going to start the game off with an onside kick and they were excited."

On halftime adjustments:

"We decided to start running at them and play more physical.  We had better down and distance situations and positive gains.  I liked our physical toughness against them."

Sophomore Offensive Guard Justin Smiley

"We had a chance to win and there were probably five or six plays that could have gone the other way and we would have won.  We are going to go back and correct those things and learn from our mistakes."

Senior Center Alonzo Ephraim

"We beat ourselves in the first half but we really came together and believed in each other in the second half.  Coach gave us the green light to play and that is what we did.  It hurts even more to lose when you let it slip through your fingers."

Senior Quarterback Tyler Watts

"I don't believe we could have played any worse in the first half.  The right plays were called, but we couldn't execute them.  In the second half we decided not to force things and take advantage of what they gave us.  I'm proud of the way we hung in and fought.  We're growing closer and will learn from this."


Head Coach Bob Stoops

On the comeback win:

"It is a great comeback win.  Hopefully in the end, you always want to win, win big and have no troubles.  When you look through the whole season that we're going to play, this may be a really great win for us ... to win like we did when we had to.  Everyone knows there's a big difference between winning and losing.  Some teams can win when they have to at the end and others have trouble doing it.  I appreciate and respect our players and coaches who hung in there. It didn't look good in the second half but we hung in there and made plays when we had to (in order) to win. 

"Let's face it as I told the players -- that's not East Popcorn State that was just in here. It was Alabama. I knew at halftime, when we were up 20 points, Alabama was not going away. They're going to continue to play and they're a good solid football team. We need to play to the level we did at the first half. They played better and made plays.  We didn't play as well.  I think coming from behind to win showed good character and may help us in the long run.

"Sometimes you have to scramble to win. I appreciate players who find a way to win. In the fourth quarter, you have to have the attitude that you're still going win."

On Alabama:

"That wasn't just another team out there. I don't care what anyone else says ... sanctions or no sanctions.  They just won the SEC Championship just a few years ago. That's a proud program. They have a lot of good players and I knew it was going to be a battle.

"They executed better in the second half.  Basically it was two plays -- the lead draw and the power.  We worked hard on those two plays all week. We knew they were coming."

On quarterback Tyler Watts:

"He's a good player. He's a scrapper. He made some nice plays throwing the ball and picking up a first down.  They've got some talented players."

On the effect of losing Jason White had on the offense:

"It didn't change anything. As we have said all along, we've got great confidence in Nate.  He's been exceptional through the spring and the summer.  We knew that if that situation came up, our guys have a lot of confidence in Nate and we do as coaches. He showed it tonight and made some excellent throws.  We didn't change a thing and I don't believe the offense even blinked."

On the kicking game:

"It was really poor, some basic fundamentals.  It's aggravating but it's something that you have to go back to the drawing board on Monday. You work the heck out of it all week.  Hopefully, you get better at it as you go through the year.  We have in the past and hopefully we can this time."

On Renaldo Works:

"Renaldo got a game ball. He came up big in the fourth quarter. I'm really proud of him, stepping in and making such a big play.   It was a great effort."

On the touchdown that gave the Sooners the lead for good:

"You could have driven a truck through that hole."

Junior Running Back Renaldo Works

On his long pass catch to put OU in position to score:
"My line just blocked well.  Nate pitched the ball to me and I just did the best I could.  I wanted to help the team come out with a victory." 
On OU's mindset in the fourth quarter:

"Our team was down and I just wanted to help as best I could.  I felt that we could still get back in the game but we just needed to attack."

On Alabama:

"They were every bit as good as we had expected coming in.  We will learn a lot from this game.  We just have to run the ball better next time."
Senior Tight End Trent Smith

On OU's final drive:

"I've got a few more gray hairs after this game.  All I said to the guys was that this is why you came to Oklahoma ... to be in these kinds of situations."
On Alabama:

"I applaud them.  That was a great surge they put together.  They fought their butts off.  Anyone watching them today has a lot of respect for that team.  The way they played was a credit to their program, their coaching staff and their history."

On OU's mindset in the fourth quarter:

"Everybody was frustrated.  No one knew quite what to do.  It wasn't long ago that we were on Owen Field in that same situation.  Nobody was going to walk off that field feeling the way we did last season."

On Nate Hybl:

"He's one of my closest friends.  I know the frustration he went through after losing the starting job.  The way he continued to work and stay positive shows what he's all about.  He's taken shot after shot and you just can't keep him down."