Bell’s late TD pass lifts OU over OSU 33-24

Oklahoma State appeared to have its second Big 12 Conference

championship and BCS bowl game berth in three seasons within its

grasp, thanks to a late rally.

Instead, the No. 6 Cowboys (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) were left in a

state of last-second shock after rival Oklahoma answered with a

rally of its own in the closing minutes of a 33-24 win on

Saturday.

Desmond Roland, who finished with 144 yards rushing and

accounted for three touchdowns, appeared to put Oklahoma State up

for good with his 1-yard touchdown with 1:46 remaining. His score

put the Cowboys a 24-20 lead and appeared to secure an

eighth-straight win as well as the Big 12 title and BCS bowl game

berth.

Oklahoma (10-2, 7-2) quarterback Blake Bell, however, had other

plans. The junior, who started earlier this season before losing

the job to Trevor Knight, rallied the No. 18 Sooners down the field

and capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds

remaining to Jalen Saunders in the corner of the end zone.

Saunders’ touchdown came just five plays after Oklahoma State’s

Justin Gilbert briefly appeared to intercept a pass from Bell, but

the cornerback was unable to keep the ball from hitting the

turf.

Following Bell’s touchdown pass to Saunders, Eric Striker then

ended the game for Oklahoma by recovering a fumble and scoring

during a desperation series of laterals. The Sooners were then

pelted with snow balls from the rival crowd.

Oklahoma has now won at least 10 games in four straight seasons,

and Sooners coach Bob Stoops is 8-1 in his career against Oklahoma

State coach Mike Gundy.

”That was a heck of a football game,” Gundy said. ”It’s

unfortunate that we came up short. What the game really came down

to was that Oklahoma made some key plays on fourth down, and we

didn’t.”

The win set off a frenzied celebration in a frigid Boone Pickens

Stadium for visiting Oklahoma, while leaving Oklahoma State once

again suffering a bitter defeat at the hands of its fiercest

rival.

This level of disappointment was higher than most for the

Cowboys, whose hopes of a second Big 12 championship and BCS bowl

game berth in three years were lost after Bell’s touchdown pass to

Saunders.

”You just love it to see a guy who’s a competitor like that,

who’s been sitting on the bench all game, to come in and play so

well,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said of Bell. ”He played

great.”

The shakeup in the BCS bowl picture, however, was the last thing

on the mind of Bell – the Oklahoma junior who replaced injured

starter Trevor Knight in the second half. After starting eight

games earlier this season for the Sooners, including a win at Notre

Dame, Bell began Saturday as Oklahoma’s third option at

quarterback.

He ended the game by leading the Sooners on a game-winning

66-yard drive in the closing minutes, going 5 of 8 for 57 yards on

the drive and finishing 10-of-16 passing for 140 yards in relief of

Knight and backup quarterback Kendal Thompson

”I was just thinking that whenever I got my opportunity, I

wanted to do the best I could with Trevor going down and Kendal

coming in,” Bell said. ”… Once I got into the rhythm of the

play, I felt like everything was clicking.”

Oklahoma State led for much of the game, only falling behind for

the first time early in the fourth quarter when Oklahoma’s Michael

Hunnicutt kicked a 39-yard field goal to put the Sooners up

20-17.

Facing a late-game deficit, quarterback Clint Chelf appeared to

rally the Cowboys for the win with a 7-play, 89-yard drive on which

he completed five straight passes for first downs.

Oklahoma stayed close for much of the game thanks to the play of

its special teams, doing so with Knight on the bench in the second

half with a shoulder injury. Saunders returned a punt 64 yards for

a touchdown in the first half and Hunnicutt – who also kicked a

pair of field goals – also caught a touchdown pass on a fake field

goal attempt.

Hunnicutt’s 8-yard touchdown catch from holder Grant Bothun tied

the game at 17-17 late in the third quarter, and it came after

Bothum darted to the left following the snap before finding a

wide-open Hunnicutt. Stoops said the Sooners didn’t put the fake in

their gameplan until Thursday.

”They called it in about 15 seconds before, so we didn’t have

too much time to think about it,” Hunnicutt said. ”I was just

super excited.”