NORMAN, Okla. -- Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro was simply trying to help his team.
He ended up doing more damage than good.
Amaro’s fumble late in the second quarter was one of two Texas Tech turnovers that directly lead to Oklahoma touchdowns in the Sooners’ 38-30 win over the Red Raiders at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
“I fumbled for the first time ever in the biggest game I’ve ever played,” Amaro said. “It was a 14-point swing because they score on that 76-yard (Blake Bell to Jalen Saunders) pass on the next play and I put a lot of that on myself.”
Sooners defensive end Charles Tapper forced the fumble as Amaro was battling for extra yardage. OU also got an interception from safety Gabe Lynn at the start of the fourth quarter with OU clinging to a four-point lead. The Sooners capitalized following both plays with touchdowns by Saunders and Damien Williams respectively.
“That’s huge,” TTU coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “You cannot come into this stadium, against this team, with these coaches and those athletes, and do that. We knew coming in that we couldn’t have the turnovers but we didn’t take care of business.”
The Tech turnovers helped the Sooners overcome a creative and aggressive game plan from Kingsbury. A fake punt, a halfback pass, an onside kick, the Ninja formation, it was all on display -- and successful -- for the Red Raiders who were trying to remain unbeaten.
Yet, the Sooners consistently came up with key defensive plays when they needed them.
“We hadn’t seen that in a couple of weeks but we’ve always had faith in them,” Lynn said of the offense turning the miscues into touchdowns. “I’m proud of them, running game, passing game, we made some huge plays on offense.”
Lynn’s interception was the only time the Sooners’ defense stopped the Red Raiders from scoring in the second half before Tech’s final drive of the game. Tech opened the second half with 17 points on three drives before Lynn picked off a tipped pass and the Sooners’ offense took the field with a seven-play, 58-yard drive to take a 35-24 lead on a three-yard touchdown run by Williams.
“It was very important because they have a great offense and we know they like to hurry up and get after it,” Williams said. “Whenever they [the defense] gave us a chance to get back on the field, we knew we had to capitalize and that’s exactly what we did.”
The Sooners’ defense was far from perfect, allowing 460 yards on 79 plays (5.8 yards per play) including 388 passing yards. However, OU held Tech to 5 of 14 third down conversion attempts and forced all three of the Red Raiders’ turnovers in its own territory.
“They got stops when they had to get stops,” center Gabe Ikard said of OU’s defense. “I thought besides a fumble early we [the offense] took care of [the ball]. The ball is everything in this game, for them to get key turnovers in key spots really helped us out, gave us momentum and we capitalized on them.”
And that, ultimately, was the difference.