AMES, Iowa — With 64 seconds left in the first half, Oklahoma was winning and not much else against Iowa State. Back-to-back turnovers had withered the Sooners’ lead down to one point, and they were content to take it into halftime.
Then running back Brennan Clay called an internal audible.
“It was a counter,” he said. “I was supposed to go up the gut. I realized we had 25 seconds. I thought, ‘Our offense was pretty potent.’ I knew we could take some shots down the field. So I figured, why not? Get out of bounds, save the clock.”
Clay did that after racing nine yards for a first down. Two plays later, the 12th-ranked Sooners were celebrating a touchdown that ignited a 35-20 victory over the Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium.
Clay’s decision set it all in motion. It might have saved the Sooners’ season.
The run was the second in a four-play drive that ended with Kenny Stills grabbing a 21-yard touchdown pass from Landry Jones. However, the drive started with OU content to run out the clock and head for the locker room.
“When you’re backed up, you don’t want to get a ball tipped or something to happen. We were thinking that,” OU coach Bob Stoops said, “but we always say that if we get a first down, we’re going fast and we can get some shots. We got in a hurry-up mode and found some big plays.”
Clay, who rushed for a career-high 157 yards, was the wild card that helped the Sooners improve to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the Big 12 Conference.
The Sooners’ leading rusher — Damien Williams — was severely limited by an ankle injury suffered last Saturday against Notre Dame. He had three carries for seven yards. His final carry came early in the second quarter. Williams limped to the sidelines after that run and did not return.