ARLINGTON, Texas —Marquise Brown forced his infectious smile through stubborn lips.
It was a bittersweet moment, taking photos with his teammates and celebrating Oklahoma's fourth-straight Big 12 championship while sporting crutches and a boot on his left leg. Coach Lincoln Riley didn't elaborate much further than what was already known.
Brown left the 39-27 win over Texas with what was determined to be a “lower-body injury” and was unable to return.
“We'll see how he does,” Riley added.
Brown's mother, Shannon James, also took an optimistic view, even though she said she didn't know the injury's severity either.
When asked about her son's season — the junior college transfer from College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California, has 75 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns in his second year at OU — she urged that it's not over yet.
“I just wanted to tell him that at the end of the day, God is in control,” James said. “He'll be all right .”
But while being carted off the field early in the fourth quarter, Brown couldn't hold back his emotions.
He hopes his season doesn't end like this with a rollercoaster afternoon.
Brown dropped several deep balls, but also caught five passes for 54 yards. Even before he left the game, CeeDee Lamb started to take over, finishing with six catches for 167 yards, and tight end Grant Calcaterra made a diving one-handed touchdown catch to seal the win.
“It was heartbreaking,” Brown said. “I felt like I wasn't playing my best ball. Not being able to finish, it hurt me, but at the same time I trust my teammates to get it done.
“There's still a lot of games left, so I don't want to start reflecting early.”
If Brown can't play in OU's bowl game — wherever that may be — the Sooners have had plenty of practice at overcoming key injuries. They won the Big 12 title despite losing star running back Rodney Anderson in Week 2, and Brown has been nagged by a left ankle injury for weeks.
OU had several other high-profile injuries this season, losing pass rusher Addison Gumbs before the opener and having running back Trey Sermon miss time with ankle issues.
Seeing an emotional leader like Brown being carted off gave the Sooners a sinking feeling. When he came back out to the field to cheer on his teammates and partake in the celebration, it gave the Sooners a lift.
“He didn't want to take away from the moment,” offensive lineman Dru Samia said. “He handled it really well and he didn't really ask anything of us. That kind of speaks to the person he is. When your teammate goes down, there's that little bit in the back of your head, where you're worried for him. Him coming back out allowed us to focus on finishing the game”
His teammates wanted to return the favor by lifting him up. Lamb made sure to give his close friend some encouragement, urging him to not rule out a return.
“I just told him after the game to stick through it,” Lamb said. “'God has a plan for us, and just keep your head on straight. Things happen for a reason and there is always a bounce back.'”
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