7:00 PM ET, September 2, 2006
Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, NORMAN, OK
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- It's all about Adrian for Oklahoma.
With Paul Thompson still settling in as Oklahoma's quarterback, Adrian Peterson helped the 10th-ranked Sooners avert a second straight season-opening disaster by running for 139 yards and scoring twice in the second half of a 24-17 win over UAB on Saturday night.
Willie Edwards had caught a 30-yard pass down UAB's sideline before running out of bounds and slamming into Dr. Brenda Baumann in front of a large cooling fan near the Blazers' bench. Baumann was taken off the sidelines on a cart and taken to a hospital.
Her condition was not immediately known.
-- Associated Press
"I wouldn't say we escaped," Peterson said. "We came out and we fought."
Thompson proved inconsistent in his return to quarterback after nearly a year away, but Peterson took control by running for 83 yards in the second half as the Sooners' offense became almost completely reliant on him.
Peterson got the ball only nine times in the first half, but the Sooners (1-0) went to him on 11 straight plays after halftime. His sixth carry in a row resulted in a 4-yard touchdown run for a 14-7 Sooners lead.
The 2004 Heisman runner-up later atoned for a fumble on his eighth consecutive rush by taking a screen pass from Thompson 69 yards down the right sideline for a score that gave Oklahoma the lead for good at 21-17.
"It might have looked like he was starting off a little slow, but you can guarantee he's going to break a couple of them and that's what he did," Thompson said. "So we kept feeding him the rock and then taking the pass whenever we felt like we could take it. It worked out the best for us."
When the string of 11 straight Peterson touches finally ended, so did the Sooners' offensive success. Juaquin Iglesias dropped a potential touchdown pass in the front of the end zone, and Oklahoma had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley.
That proved to be enough, though. Swayze Waters missed a 43-yard field goal to end one drive for UAB (0-1), and Oklahoma took advantage of new NCAA timing rules to run off the final 2:22 after the Blazers' final possession ended with a punt.
"Some might look at this as we looked kind of sloppy, but it is definitely the first game. A win is a win," Thompson said. "We definitely feel good. We feel like we can build on this."
Still, Oklahoma has to be wondering whether Thompson is an able replacement for Rhett Bomar, who was dismissed last month after investigators discovered he had broken NCAA rules by taking money for work he did not perform at a Norman car dealership. Bomar led OU to wins in six of its last seven games last season.
Thompson, who was the starter in Oklahoma's 17-10 upset loss to TCU in the season opener last year, had no signs of rust early after moving back to quarterback from receiver following Bomar's dismissal. Thompson had been practicing exclusively at receiver from the Sooners' win against Oregon in the Holiday Bowl last December until fall camp began.
He opened 8-for-10, including two connections with tight end Joe Jon Finley on a swift, two-play 46-yard scoring drive on Oklahoma's second possession. Finley's wide-open grab along the right hash for a 21-yard score put the Sooners up 7-0.
Thompson's production dropped off from there. Passes started flying wide, short or high, and he had two throws picked off in the final five minutes of the first half -- one on a deflection off Iglesias' hands as he leaped to catch a high pass and another as Chris Felder slid in front of Iglesias at the UAB 3 to prevent a Sooners score.
In the second half, he threw only five passes as the Sooners rode Peterson. Thompson finished with 227 yards on 14-for-24 passing with two interceptions and two touchdowns.
"I was very pleased. I anticipated he'd play well. I really did feel good," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "He is very, very capable and we really believe he's got a chance to be really good."
UAB pulled starting quarterback Chris Williams -- who nearly led the Blazers to an upset at No. 4 Georgia in a 16-13 loss in 2003 -- after two series without a first down, and junior Sam Hunt proved to be an effective replacement.
He led a 15-play, 80-yard scoring drive that Corey White capped with a 5-yard TD run. White later added a touchdown on a 24-yard screen pass from Hunt, and the Blazers led 17-14 after Peterson's fumble set up a 32-yard field goal by Waters.
Hunt completed 9 of 15 passes for 149 yards and also had 65 yards rushing.
It just wasn't enough to overcome Peterson.
"He is the best player we've seen in 12 years here, maybe the best player I have ever seen," said UAB coach Watson Brown, the brother of Texas coach and Oklahoma rival Mack Brown. "He will touch the ball enough times that he is going to make enough plays for them. They just keep going to him and he will figure out the defense."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... The clock ran out. Oklahoma took the lead for good on a 69-yard pass from QB Paul Thompson to Adrian Peterson late in the third, but UAB was a constant threat to score.
Gameball goes to... Adrian Peterson, who won the game for the Sooners. His 134 yards rushing and 69 yards receiving were huge, and his two TDs were critical.
Stat of the game... 14: Both teams had 14 first downs. OU, however, was able to generate 64 more yards of offense. Subtle, but important.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||2-11||3-11|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-0|
|TD||8:12||JOE JON FINLEY 21 YD PASS FROM PAUL THOMPSON (GARRETT HARTLEY KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 46 yards.
|TD||7:17||COREY WHITE 5 YD RUN (PARKER MULLINS KICK)|
Drive info: 15 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||10:32||ADRIAN PETERSON 4 YD RUN (GARRETT HARTLEY KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 39 yards.
|TD||7:37||COREY WHITE 24 YD PASS FROM SAM HUNT (SWAYZE WATERS KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 74 yards.
|FG||4:16||SWAYZE WATERS 32 YD FG|
Drive info: 5 plays, 29 yards.
|TD||3:39||ADRIAN PETERSON 69 YD PASS FROM PAUL THOMPSON (GARRETT HARTLEY KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 69 yards.
|FG||14:13||GARRETT HARTLEY 30 YD FG|
Drive info: 5 plays, 24 yards.