NEW ORLEANS — Trevor Knight kept rolling right and rolling right and rolling right.
Finally, he threw the ball, across his body, from the right boundary back toward the middle of the end zone.
The last time so unlikely a touchdown toss was made, Joe Montana threw it to Dwight Clark at the NFC championship game, only Montana didn’t have the audacity to read his tight end’s mind the way Knight read Shepard’s, as the sophomore receiver improvised into a curl, running around defenders and forward toward the ball, all of it after Knight had begun his throwing motion.
If the redshirt freshman’s 43-yard in-stride strike to Jalen Saunders that put OU up 24-17 in the second quarter was perfect, this one was extraordinary, the stuff from which folk heroes are made, the stuff that will be remembered for years and years and years to come, like Josh Heupel’s over-the-middle lob into the Norman sky that Curtis Fagan ran underneath in 2000, like the laser Jason White threw at Mark Bradley to beat Texas A&M in 2004, like, though it wasn’t a pass, the helicopter ride Sam Bradford took in the name of securing Bedlam victory in 2008.
But was it the game’s biggest play? No, not really. Just one of them. It was amazing, crazy and out of nowhere, and OU was just getting started.
Brennan Clay delivered one nobody will remember, yet might have won the Sooners the game.
Alabama had just scored, making it 38-31, all kinds of time — 5:29 — remained, and the Sooners faced third-and-9 at their own 13-yard line.
The Crimson Tide had all the momentum when Knight tossed a soft screen to Clay, who had no chance to pick his way past the first down marker, except that he did anyway, breaking tackles and sacrificing his body for the most important 9-yard gain in several Sooner seasons.