NORMAN — As Brennan Clay stumbled into the end zone, the junior running back threw the ball into the air and leapt in celebration.
The fans' cheers grew louder as a large group surrounded Clay beyond the end zone. Red jersey jumped on the back of red jersey and knocked over a photographer in the process.
Before 2012, Clay was a backup, and not a productive one. He watched as a walk-on and then a freshman steal the spotlight after a neck-injury hampered him.
A month ago, he sat in frustration at the end of the Notre Dame game, blaming himself and his two dropped passes for the loss.
Since his breakthrough performance at Iowa State, he's become a fixture on Oklahoma's offense. Saturday night, he carved out his place in the program's history.
This was Bedlam 2012 — a 51-48 Oklahoma victory — and the gathering at the back of the south end zone was just the start of Clay's nearly seven-minute journey of jubilation around Owen Field.
It's a journey he'd never made.
As the celebration moved across the field, Clay became a loner. He walked across midfield as the marching band struck up the fight song. Three television cameras followed.
Seniors threw their arms around him. Former players shook his hand. Freshmen jumped on his back, and a group of Oklahoma fans stood together with their pointer fingers directed at the star from San Diego.
As he walked, he slowly soaked in all the cheering, the high fives, the people reaching for a touch of the one who had just sealed Bedlam history for the Sooners. Because of Clay's touchdown, he gave OU a win in the first Bedlam game to go past regulation time.
“That's how you do it,” safety Javon Harris yelled as he embraced Clay. “That's how you do it, man.”
Clay paused for pictures before slowly, aimlessly starting to walk again. Cheerleaders patted him on the back and told him good job. Photographers ran up and snapped photos. Even the mascot had to get a hand on the running back.
And as the entire team ran past him toward the student section in the north end zone as “Jump Around” blared through the public address system and wide receiver Jalen Saunders stopped to quickly congratulate Clay, he just smiled — and kept walking.
Linebacker Corey Nelson stopped him and started a dance circle surrounding Clay.
“That's how you end it,” Nelson yelled.
Clay beamed and continued walking until he was greeted by wide receiver Kenny Stills.
Just seconds after Stills subtly kissed Clay on the forehead, an ecstatic Tony Jefferson came running toward Clay shouting, “Yes! Yes!” He knocked Clay to the ground, which OSU defenders failed to do minutes earlier. And that's when the Cali Trio dog piled at the 40-yard line of Owen Field.
More Sooners rushed in — Damien Williams, Blake Bell, Landry Jones and Justin Brown, and for the second time of the night, Clay was the center of the Sooners' circle.
The cheering and hugging and congratulating continued. Every player who saw Clay that hadn't seen him yet grabbed him and embraced.
A stunned group of Oklahoma State cheerleaders watched wide-eyed, tucked against the brick walls of the stadium, as Clay walked past.
He soaked in his biggest moment in Oklahoma history and his smile never disappeared.
As Journey's “Don't Stop Believing” filled Oklahoma's stadium, the star of Saturday walked into the tunnel with his coach's arm around him.