Sooners Surprise No. 6 Ducks
Brady Leaf has steered clear of older brother Ryan’s legacy of boorish behavior, but he couldn’t evade another of his sibling’s other traits -- throwing interceptions.
Oklahoma linebacker Clint Ingram made a leaping interception of Leaf’s pass at the 10-yard line with 33 seconds left in the Holiday Bowl to preserve the Sooners’ 17-14 upset of the No. 6 Oregon Ducks on Thursday night.
“It was a good call, I just underthrew the ball a little bit,” said Leaf, who had moved the Ducks into position to win it. “There is not much more to it. Ingram made a nice play.”
Ingram missed the call for a blitz on the second-and-nine play, so he was in position to get in front of Demetrius Williams for the pickoff.
“This was the biggest play that I’ve ever made in any sport,” Ingram said. “Everything we’ve gone through, everyone made plays and I just made the last one.”
Leaf said he saw Ingram.
“I just tried to put it up and take some trajectory off it a little bit to try and get the ball to him quicker and I just didn’t get it high enough.”
Said Oregon Coach Mike Bellotti: “I’m proud we came back and had a chance to win this game, not just tie it up. We just didn’t make the play right there.”
Leaf had thrown a three-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tim Day with 3:30 left to pull the Ducks to 17-14.
Oregon’s defense held, and Leaf began another drive at his 22 with 3:04 to play. He threw a 38-yard pass to Terrence Whitehead, who zigzagged to the Oklahoma 34. On a third-and-14 play from the 39, Leaf rolled right, was flushed back to the left and dodged a tackler before side-arming a pass to Jeremiah Johnson for a 19-yard gain.
The interception came two plays later.
“As soon as I saw him go up for the ball I knew it wasn’t going to be dropped,” Coach Bob Stoops said. “He doesn’t drop balls.”
Leaf was booed when he went in for Oregon’s third possession of the game, and again when a scoreboard graphic noted that he was Ryan Leaf’s younger brother. Ryan Leaf, the bad-boy quarterback who played for the Chargers for three seasons, was perhaps the biggest bust in NFL history.
“I tried to block that stuff out,” Leaf said. “I’m not trying to pay attention to the crowd too much, I’m focused on the team. I was just trying to get them a win.”
Brady Leaf had helped rally the Ducks (10-2) in three of their final four regular-season games.
The Sooners (8-4) have won six of seven. They were coming off consecutive losses in BCS championship games.
It appeared the Ducks and Sooners would play the lowest-scoring Holiday Bowl ever. It turned out to be the second-lowest. The Holiday Bowl has a reputation of wild finishes and high scores, with an average of 57 points being scored in the first 27 editions. In the last five Holiday Bowls, the teams combined for an average of 67 points.
Oregon led, 7-3, after the lowest-scoring first half in Holiday Bowl history, but its offense was a no-show for most of the second half.
After a slow start, Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson finished with 84 yards in 23 carries.
Rhett Bomar threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to fullback J.D. Runnells for a 10-7 Oklahoma lead with 9:20 to play in the third quarter.
Late in the third, Peterson’s backup, Kejuan Jones, scored on an eight-yard run to make it 17-7. Peterson softened the Ducks with three bruising carries on the drive for 36 yards, including a 20-yard gain when he leveled safety J.D. Nelson.
Peterson apparently needed stitches in his forehead in the third quarter after he hit it on the back of a teammate’s helmet while celebrating a big play. He was treated on the bench, and when he stood up, had a big bandage on his forehead.
Peterson fumbled on the Oregon one early in the fourth quarter trying to stretch for the end zone.
Oregon at least had the spirit of the Holiday Bowl on its first possession, running two trick plays and then going for it on fourth down before failing to convert. Matt Dragich gained 20 yards on a fake punt before receiver Garren Strong threw a pass down the left sideline to quarterback Dennis Dixon, who dropped it.
After taking over on downs, Oklahoma settled for Garrett Hartley’s 34-yard field goal. Oregon came back and made it 7-3 on Demetrius Williams’ five-yard touchdown run on an end-around.
Bomar completed 17 of 30 passes for 229 yards and had one pass intercepted. Leaf was 14 of 24 for 136 yards. Oregon starter Dennis Dixon was 11 of 19 for 107 yards.