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December 30, 2005

Holiday Heroes

Game Ticker | box score

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SAN DIEGO, California -- Oklahoma dodged a bullet and knocked the chip off Oregon's shoulder.

Rhett Bomar completed 17-of-30 passes for 229 yards and a touchdown to lead Oklahoma to the Holiday Bowl title with a 17-14 victory over sixth-ranked Oregon.

The Sooners (8-4), who had lost to USC and LSU in the last two national championship games, defeated the Ducks for the sixth time in as many meetings, outscoring Oregon, 201-31, during that stretch.

"It kind of just typifies our whole year, having to scratch and claw through it all," Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. "It's not always easy. We were playing the number five or six team in the country and we knew it was going to be tough, so I'm proud of the way our guys did compete."

The loss gave the Ducks (10-2) a frustrating finish to a solid season. Oregon was passed over for a BCS bowl game despite winning its last seven regular-season contests after suffering a 45-13 loss to USC on September 24.

Trailing, 7-3, in the third quarter, the Sooners took the lead for good when Bomar found J.D. Runnels for a 16-yard touchdown. The score capped a four-play, 53-yard drive and gave Oklahoma a 10-7 edge.

"We came out firing (in the second half)," said Bomar, who was named the game's Most Valuable Player. "We saw some things in the first half that we thought we could take advantage of. We started running the ball in the third quarter and that helped a lot in the passing game."

After forcing Oregon to punt on its next possession, Oklahoma struck again when Kejuan Jones concluded a nine-play, 74-yard drive with an eight-yard TD run with 3:25 left in the third quarter.

Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson gained 84 yards on 23 carries to become the eighth player in school history to rush for 3,000 career yards. However, he missed an opportunity to put the game out of reach when he fumbled at the Oregon 1 early in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Anthony Trucks recovered for the Ducks.

Oregon drew a pass interference against Sooners defensive back Eric Bassey at the Oklahoma 3 on a fake field goal attempt. On the next play, Brady Leaf found tight end Tim Day for a touchdown that cut the deficit to 17-14 with 3 1/2 minutes left.

The Sooners were forced to punt, giving the Ducks one final opportunity to pull out a victory. Leaf moved Oregon to the Oklahoma 19 before linebacker Clint Ingram made his fifth interception of the season with 33 seconds remaining.

"The coach called a blitz, I believe," Ingram said. "I didn't hear it, though. I needed to take some speed off of (Oregon wide receiver Jordan Kent) so I jammed him and then just sunk out and he threw it right to me.

"It was a good call," Leaf said. "I just under-threw the ball a little bit. I saw (Ingram) but I just tried to take some trajectory off of it and it just didn't get high enough. Ingram made a great play on the ball."

Making its seventh consecutive bowl appearance and 39th overall, Oklahoma held on to win the second-lowest scoring game in Holiday Bowl history. Iowa and BYU played a 13-13 tie in 1991.

"It feels great," Bomar said. "Everybody doubted us at the beginning of the year and we finished strong. We wanted to help our seniors go out on a good note and take away some good memories from this bowl game."

Oregon took a 7-3 lead in the first quarter when wide receiver Demetrius Williams scored on a six-yard end-around for his 11th touchdown of the season, ending a 12-play, 79-yard drive.

Leaf, the younger brother of former San Diego Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf, was 14-of-24 for 136 yards and was sacked twice.

"We rallied and responded and gave ourselves a chance to win," Ducks coach Mike Bellotti said. "I believe we would've won that football game but for a couple of inches on that last pass. Brady did a great job of bringing us back and providing a spark."

Oklahoma will make its first trip to Eugene, Oregon to face the Ducks on September 16.



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