Oklahoma’s Perine runs for record 427 yards
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) As Samaje Perine churned up the yards, the rain-soaked crowd at half-filled Memorial Stadium chanted his name.
The Oklahoma true freshman rewarded those who braved the elements with history. He set a major college record by running for 427 yards, scoring five touchdowns to lead the No. 23 Sooners over Kansas 44-7 Saturday.
”It’s still surreal,” Perine said. ”I just looked at it as doing what I had to do to help my team. I’m not really feeling special in any type of way.”
A week after Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon set the mark by rushing for 408 yards against Nebraska, Perine ran past him. He broke the 7-day-old record on his 34th and final carry, a 42-yard run with 12:16 left in the fourth quarter.
After his final run, his teammates hoisted him on their shoulders, one of the few times he was controlled by anyone all day. The way his teammates mobbed him offers a glimpse into Perine’s character.
”This is really awesome that he goes down in the record books,” Oklahoma center Ty Darlington said. ”He’s such a team player. What people won’t see is he’s covering kickoffs, he’s blocking for other guys who don’t have the ball. He plays so hard every play, and he’s such a humble guy.”
The 5-foot-11, 243-pound bulldozer often bounced off would-be tacklers like a pingpong ball, then accelerated and used surprising breakaway speed to finish runs. He got off a fast start, running for a 49-yard TD on his first carry. He added TD runs of 33 and 34 yards in the second quarter and scored on runs of 66 and 27 yards in the third.
Perine’s first-half total of 222 yards was the best half by any player in Oklahoma history, and his second-half tally of 205 yards was the fourth-best.
In a game that started 90 minutes late because of lightning, Perine shattered the school rushing record of 294 yards set by Greg Pruitt in 1971.
The Sooners (8-3, 5-3 Big 12) held Kansas to 103 yards to win their second straight.
The Jayhawks (3-8, 1-7) lost their 29th straight true road game and 32nd in a row straight outside of Lawrence. Kansas had hoped to build on last week’s 34-30 loss to then-No. 5 TCU, but the Jayhawks failed to produce any points on offense.
Kansas’ lone touchdown came when Cassius Sendish returned Keith Ford’s fumble 63 yards for a touchdown. The Sooners now have won 10 straight in the series – the Jayhawks haven’t beaten Oklahoma since 1997 and haven’t won in Norman since 1996.
Perine carried the Sooners on an afternoon when they were minus their top passing threats.
Quarterback Trevor Knight sat out with a neck injury. Top receiver Sterling Shepard, who had been dealing with a nagging groin injury, left after a punt return in the first quarter. Tight end Blake Bell, who was second on the team with four touchdown catches, was out with a strained knee.
The injuries and the weather forced Oklahoma to depend almost entirely on its power running game.
Perine’s first carry resulted in his 15th touchdown rushing, tying Adrian Peterson for Oklahoma’s freshman record.
On his first carry of the second half, Perine bolted for his longest run of the season, a 66-yarder that made it 31-0.
Later in the third quarter, he got loose for a 27-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-2 to push the lead to 41-7.
He was ready to come out if the coaches wanted him to, but running backs coach Cale Gundy gave him a shot.
”He (Gundy) overheard other people on the sideline saying I needed this amount of yards, and I went over and told him I really don’t care,” Perine said. ”I just want to play the next play, but if you want another guy in there, he can go in there and try to get us some yards.”
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said there was no way the Sooners were going to pull Perine once they became aware that he was closing in on records.
”The guy is just so exceptional in everything that he does,” Stoops said. ”We were thinking about resting him, and then someone said he only needs 35 more yards, and you know, that’s just too close not to do it, and there’s too much time left in the game.”
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .