MIAMI – Points were tough to come by for the high-scoring Oklahoma Sooners, even when they had Florida backed up to the goal line.
Twice the Gators stopped Oklahoma inside the 10, stands that proved pivotal in the Gators’ 24-14 victory in the BCS national championship game Thursday night.
“That basically won the game for us,” linebacker Ryan Stamper said. “We bent but we didn’t break.”
The Sooners scored an NCAA-record 702 points during the regular season, averaging 54 a game. When reaching the opposing 20-yard line, they had scored 76 of 80 times, including 69 touchdowns. But they were stopped twice in the first half by Florida, and later had a field-goal attempt blocked.
The Gators, who ranked eighth nationally in yards allowed, kept Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford guessing with lots of blitzes.
“Our defense was really jacked up to play this game, knowing this was the No. 1 offense in the country and playing against the Heisman Trophy winner,” Stamper said. “They have dynamic players, but we have dynamic players on our defense, too. We played our hearts out tonight.”
Oklahoma made 25 first downs but totaled only 363 yards, well less than its regular-season average of 562. Major Wright and Ahmad Black had interceptions against Bradford, who threw only six during the regular season.
With the score 7-all, an interception gave the Sooners the ball at the Florida 26.
Oklahoma picked up a first down at the 9, and two carries by Chris Brown advanced the ball to the 1.
But on third down, he was halted for no gain by 298-pound tackle Torrey Davis. On fourth down, Davis again stopped Brown for a 2-yard loss.
The Sooners forced a punt and drove 74 yards in the final 2:32 of the first half. But with a first down at the 6 and 10 seconds left, Bradford tried to throw to Manuel Johnson, and Florida’s Joe Haden tipped the ball. Three other defenders also touched it, and Wright made a juggling interception at the 3.
“That play took forever,” Wright said. “Joe Haden made a great play. He knocked down the ball. Stamper ended up hitting up the ball. Somebody else touched the ball, and I was like, ‘Whoa, I have to do something. Let me grab it.’ ”
Another missed chance for the Sooners came in the third quarter. After Florida marched 75 yards for a touchdown to take a 14-7 lead, Oklahoma picked up two first downs. But on third-and-1 at the 28, Brown was stopped for a 4-yard loss by Stamper, and Jimmy Stevens’ 49-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by Carlos Dunlap.
With Florida leading 17-14, Bradford threw long to Juaquin Iglesias. Black snatched the ball out of Iglesias’ hands for an interception at the Gators’ 24.
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