Probation prevented Oklahoma from playing in a bowl game, but it didn't keep four Sooners from grabbing some postseason attention.
Scott Evans made a key interception to halt one drive and teammate Frank Blevins stopped another with a goal-line tackle as the Blue team held on for a 17-14 victory Tuesday in the 53rd annual Blue-Gray college all-star game.Evans, a defensive lineman at Oklahoma, was named the Blue's most valuable player, adding two sacks to his interception.
Blevins, a Sooners linebacker, stopped Houston's Chuck Weatherspoon on fourth-and-goal at the 1 and finished with six tackles, tied for the team lead with yet another Oklahoma player, lineman Tom Backes, who also recovered a fumble. The fourth Oklahoma defensive player, lineman James Goode, chipped in with five tackles.
"We weren't going to a bowl, so we wanted to prove ourselves," Evans said. "We wanted to show people around here that we have some players at Oklahoma. I think we did that."
The final totals for the Oklahoma contingent: 20 tackles, two quarterback sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery.
Oklahoma State's Cary Blanchard broke a 14-14 tie midway through the fourth quarter with a 25-yard field goal. But the Gray's downfall was a lack of production deep in Blue territory and a failure to capitalize on six Blue turnovers.
Five times the Gray had a first down inside the Blue 15. Only once did it come away with points.
In the first quarter, the Gray had a first-and-goal at the 7. Three plays gained six yards, and then the 230-pound Weatherspoon was thrown for a 1-yard loss by Blevins on fourth down.
"We guessed that they were going to try to run up the middle," said Blevins, who weighs 225. "It was clogged up and I happened to be there . . . I was surprised we stopped him. He's a load."
In the fourth quarter, after rallying from a 14-0 deficit only to fall behind on Blanchard's field goal, the Gray wasted two more chances to win.
On first down from the Blue 11, a screen pass by Scott Zolak of Maryland was intercepted by Evans with 6:25 remaining. Evans saw that the play was intended for Weatherspoon and held back at the line of scrimmage instead of rushing.
"We'd worked on that play all week," Evans said. "I saw Weatherspoon and I just stopped. (Zolak) tried to throw it over my head, but I was able to jump up and catch it."
The Gray had one final chance after Oklahoma State's Gerald Hudson fumbled at the Blue 48.
Zolak appeared to throw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Phil Logan of Kentucky with less than two minutes remaining. But another receiver, Louisiana Tech's Bobby Slaughter, was called for pass interference. The drive stalled and Georgia's Jon Kasay missed badly on a 40-yard field goal attempt with 1:38 remaining.
Weatherspoon was stopped on another fourth-and-goal at the 1 by North Dakota State's Phil Hansen in the third quarter.
The Blue scored on its first two possessions.
Sheldon Canley of San Jose ran 7 yards for a touchdown, capping a four-play drive that began when Blevins stripped the ball from Zolak at the Gray 36 and Backes recovered at the 36. Northwestern's Bob Christian capped a 76-yard drive with a 15-yard run the next time the Blue had the ball.
Zolak, though, hooked up with Logan for a 39-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, and then he tied the game himself by diving over from the 1 late in the third period.
Zolak accounted for most of the Gray's run-and-shoot offense, completing 15 of 25 passes for 254 yards. But he also was intercepted twice and lost a fumble. His running game was of little help, picking up only 26 yards on the same number of carries.
"It was different, but it was a lot of fun," Zolak said of the formation installed by Houston coach John Jenkins, who handled the Gray offense. "It was a lot to get adjusted to, but we got in the groove in the second half. I thought we did good with only five days (of practice) to put it together."