No. 1 Oklahoma withstands No. 5 FSU
Stills’ TD catch -- and Sooners’ defense -- holds off pesky ’Noles
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Kenny Stills reached high to grab a 37-yard touchdown pass from Landry Jones midway through the fourth quarter for the tiebreaking score, and Oklahoma's defense made the lead stand as the top-ranked Sooners beat No. 5 Florida State 23-13 on Saturday night.
Javon Harris picked off two passes for the Sooners (2-0), who forced three turnovers and harassed both Florida State quarterbacks all night. The Seminoles (2-1) played the final 20 minutes without starting quarterback E.J. Manuel, who left in the third with a left shoulder injury.
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Backup Clint Trickett kept the Seminoles in it. He hooked up with freshman Rashad Greene for a 56-yard touchdown on a third-and-28 with 9:32 left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 13.
But on the next possession, Jones went deep down the sideline to the 6-foot-1 Stills, who easily outleaped 5-8 Greg Reid for the touchdown.
Trickett couldn't respond. On the next drive, he had a pass tipped at the line by Ronnell Lewis, and Harris came up with his second interception near midfield. Just like the first pick, Oklahoma turned it into a field goal, this one from 31 yards out by Jimmy Stevens.
Jones finished 18 for 27 for 199 yards with two interceptions, though he did become the school's career passing leader, moving past Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford.
A rematch of a lopsided 47-17 Oklahoma victory in Norman last season, this was more reminiscent of the most important game these two heavyweight programs have played. The Sooners won their last national championship in 2000 by beating the Seminoles 13-2 in the Orange Bowl.
The Sooners scored a touchdown on their first possession and one of the most potent offenses in the country didn't find the end zone again until the fourth quarter. Florida State looked as if it would never get there.
Then Greene's touchdown sent most of the record crowd of 84,392 at Doak Campbell Stadium into hysterics. Like Stills, he went high in traffic to come down with Trickett's pass then broke free from the pack and raced for the score.
Trickett was 7 for 15 for 134 yards for Florida State, which had no running game beyond Manuel's 49 yards.
Oklahoma seemed to pick up right where it left off last year in Norman on the first drive of the game, zipping down field with little resistance for an 80-yard drive that ended with Jones' 1-yard touchdown sneak.
Dustin Hopkins booted a 53-yard field goal to make it 7-3 with 2:42 left in the first.
Turnovers, penalties and defense dominated the rest of the way.
Manuel made some nifty plays on the run, jumping over one of his lineman on the way to a 12-yard gain in the second quarter. But the junior also was intercepted twice in Oklahoma territory. The first was on a ball batted into the air behind the line and grabbed by linebacker Tom Wort.
The second came late in the half when Harris grabbed a high throw and returned it 69 yards to the Florida State 3 with 1:19 left in the quarter.
But for the second time in the half, the Sooners got inside the 5 and settled for a field goal. After a penalty pushed OU back, Stevens kicked a 29-yarder to make it 13-3 as time expired in the half.
Florida State's best shot to get in the end zone in the first half came when Manuel found Kenny Shaw deep down the middle inside the 5, but the receiver was sandwiched by Wort and Harris, taking a double-helmet shot, and the ball came out. The Sooners were flagged 15 yards for the hit and Shaw lay motionless on the turf for several minutes. He was carted off, conscious and moving his arms, and taken to the hospital for X-rays. He later returned to the sideline in the fourth quarter.
The Sooners' defense got a boost with the return of star linebacker Travis Lewis, who came back earlier than expected from a broken left toe to start against Florida State.
With 5:42 left in the third quarter, Manuel was swarmed under by Oklahoma on a third-and-2 play that never had a chance and the quarterback came off the field wincing, holding his left arm close to his body. He went to the locker room to have his shoulder examined, and Trickett took over the offense after Lamarcus Joyner intercepted a deep ball by Jones.
With no running game to help him, Trickett, a redshirt freshman and the son of Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett, led the Seminoles to Hopkins' 46-yard field goal to make it 13-6 with 53 seconds left in the third.