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Sooners Strongarm Smith and Missouri

October 19, 2003|From Associated Press

NORMAN, Okla. — Having taken yet another brutal hit, Brad Smith was left sprawled on the turf.

The Missouri quarterback slowly picked himself off the ground and limped for the sideline. He didn't come into the game again.

The Oklahoma Sooners had finally caught up with Smith.

Smith gave Oklahoma a scare in the first half, but Jason White threw for 278 yards and two touchdowns and Antonio Perkins tied a Division I-A record with his seventh career punt return for a touchdown as the top-ranked Sooners beat No. 24 Missouri 34-13 on Saturday night.

"We wanted him to beat us with his arm and not his feet, and I think we were successful," said Oklahoma defensive end Dan Cody, who had one of the five sacks of Smith.

"We're in such good shape that we knew we'd wear him down."

The Sooners (7-0, 3-0 Big 12) looked a little sluggish at the start, a week after their 65-13 dismantling of Texas.

Many of Oklahoma's early struggles were caused by Smith, the multitalented quarterback who rolled up nearly 400 yards of offense and three touchdowns against the Sooners last year as the Tigers nearly pulled off the upset before losing, 31-24.

But Oklahoma scored three touchdowns in the final seven minutes of the first half to turn the game into a rout.

"We didn't handle the emotion and the intensity of an impact play," Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel said. "They can strike fast and hard."

Perkins' 64-yard punt return with 1:02 left in the first half gave Oklahoma a 31-10 lead. The score left Missouri noticeably deflated as the Sooners whooped their way into the locker room for halftime, while many of the Tigers slowly jogged off the field.

The touchdown return was Perkins' fourth this season and seventh of his career, both equaling Division I-A records.

Early on, the homecoming crowd of 83,327 sat in stunned silence as the Tigers (5-2, 1-2) looked poised to knock off their second consecutive Top 10 team following last week's 41-24 upset of Nebraska.

At that point, Smith had 192 yards of offense against the nation's third-ranked defense.

But the Sooners eventually caught up with Smith and the Tigers, holding them to only 84 yards and five first downs in the second half.

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