OU V Kent State

OU’s Kelvin Gilliam celebrates a play Saturday during the Sooners game against Kent State at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

Oklahoma’s offense couldn’t seem to find any sort of a rhythm through the first two quarters against Kent State.

The Sooners had put together a balanced attack in the season opener against UTEP, but on Saturday, Kent State was able to make the offense one-dimensional in the first half. Of the Sooners’ 26 snaps in the first half, exactly half were running plays.

Still, the Sooners managed just seven yards rushing in the first two quarters and were 1-for-6 on third-down conversions. The Golden Flashes held a 3-0 lead over Oklahoma and drove down the field to get into field goal range before missing on a 41-yard attempt late in the first half.

That left the Sooners with one last chance to drive down the field and score before halftime. Starting from their own 24-yard line, the Sooners drove down the field in six plays and scored on a 36-yard pass from Dillon Gabriel to Marvin Mims.

It was the only real momentum the Sooners were able to create up until that point, but it proved to be valuable as they went on to score 24 unanswered points in the third quarter of a 33-3 win at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

“I think it’s huge that we’re able to win 33-3 and play the way we did. Kent State did an unbelievable job in the first half,” OU offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby said. “I’m frustrated that we didn’t play the way we needed to play. But the fact that we can walk away from this and win by 30 points and understand that there are so many lessons to learn is huge for our growth as an offense, as a team, all those things. I’m proud of our guys for staying together.”

Oklahoma put up 236 yards of total offense in the third quarter alone, including 99 yards on the ground. Marcus Major extended the Sooners’ lead to double digits on the team’s first possession of the second half on a 16-yard run.

On the next drive, Kent State appeared to have a first down on a quick pass to Devontez Walker, but sophomore safety Billy Bowman ripped the ball away and was able jump on the loose ball for the Sooners’ first takeaway of the game.

The Sooners’ defense also came away with a pair of big plays in the fourth quarter. The first came on a high snap that sailed into the end zone and eventually resulted in a safety. The Sooners also got an interception later in the quarter, when Justin Harrington made a nice break on a pass from Kent State’s Devin Kargman.

It was a tale of two halves for the Sooners. And for OU coach Brent Venables, it was nice to see his team respond to that first-half adversity.

“We’ve got a lot to learn and grow from through this game,” OU head coach Brent Venables said. ”I was hopeful for some strain and a challenge. There’s not going to be change and improvement and development without a challenge. I thought we had a good chance to do that.”

Marvin Mims scored his second touchdown of the evening late in the third quarter on a 58-yard pass from Gabriel. Mims finished with over 200 all-purpose yards including 41 yards as a punt returner.

Mims was targeted eight times and had seven catches for 163 yards receiving.

Gabriel quietly led the Sooners offense with 296 yards passing while completing 75 percent of his passes, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Gabriel’s other passing touchdown went to Drake Stoops on a short pass that the redshirt senior wide receiver took 18 yards into the end zone.

The Sooners rushed for 127 yards in the second half (5.5 yards per carry) and were able to mix in a few different players in the backfield.

“We added a few small tweaks to what we were doing in the run game,” Venables said. “I thought our guys really played physical there in the last part of the first half and certainly in the second half.”

Tarik Masri is a sports reporter for The Transcript covering OU athletics and area sports. You can reach him by emailing tarik@normantranscript.com

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