NORMAN —Oklahoma was in the midst of a nearly flawless quarter, a sparkling stretch in which the No. 6 Sooners put 28 points on Texas A&M on the way to a 41-25 victory Saturday afternoon.
That's when it happened. That's when OU's season changed course. With one stutter step and cut on the Owen Field turf, Ryan Broyles' incredible college career was over.
The senior receiver tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. OU coach Bob Stoops said Broyles will have surgery in a couple of weeks, once the swelling subsides.
“Your heart drops when you first hear it,” Stoops said. “These guys work so hard and he's done so much … and then that.”
Broyles' will finish his senior year with 81 catches for 1,070 yards and 10 touchdowns. He will leave OU as the school's all-time leader in catches (349), yards (4,586) and touchdowns (45).
The Norman native set the NCAA career receptions record earlier in the season, at Kansas. He was gunning for the NCAA yardage mark, having moved Saturday into second place.
And it's all over. Just like that.
Broyles made his second catch of the game, a 30-yarder on a crossing route with about six minutes to go in the third quarter. An A&M defender tugged on his jersey, slowing down his progress long enough for a couple of other Aggies to come over and assist with the tackle.
When the defenders were in pursuit, Broyles tried to juke them to pick up an extra yard or two. The result was a torn ACL.
“I feel for Ryan,” Stoops said. “We're all disappointed for Ryan, for sure. He's such a special, special player. … For that to happen, it's just deflating, for him and for all of us.”
While his teammates continued the drive to go up 24 points, Broyles was 75 yards away, lying on a training table with a half-dozen or so medical staffers flanking him.
After a couple of standard ligament tests, a trainer leaned in to tell Broyles something. Broyles' expression immediately changed, his body language sinking. His head went into his hands. Tears soon filled his eyes and splashed out on to his cheeks.
Broyles' quarterback, Landry Jones, walked over to check on him. Jones and Broyles have gotten tight over the past year or so, fused together by their growing faith.
Jones said he prayed with Broyles on the field. He talked with him after the game, also.
“I've played with him a long time around this place,” said Jones, OU's all-time leading passer, thanks in large part to Broyles. “It hurts not to have him. It hurts for him not to be around. We'll miss him.”
Despite the apparent blowout, a pall swept over Oklahoma Memorial Stadium during the fourth quarter – both in the stands and on the sideline. It was a big win – accompanied by a bigger loss.
“I lost a lot of energy when I heard it,” sophomore receiver Jaz Reynolds said. “Once you lose one of your captains, it's tough on everybody.”
The Sooners (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) will have two weeks to prepare for Baylor, without Broyles. But, really, they could have eternity and not find a way to truly replace the school's top receiver.
“It's tragic,” safety Aaron Colvin said. “That's going to hurt our team.”
The onus of picking up for Broyles will fall to a pair of sophomores, Reynolds and Kenny Stills, among others. Trey Franks, Dejuan Miller and Kameel Jackson have been in the receiver rotation, as well.
“It'll be a different feel to the offense, but we'll be all right,” Jones said. “It's hard to replace an All-American, but we've got guys who are capable.”
Broyles owns 10 Oklahoma records; he was hurt maneuvering for an extra 3 feet.
“He's probably the best wide receiver to ever come through this place, or one of the top ones,” Jones said. “It's just a bad deal, all around.”