UTEP loses 24-7 to No. 4 Sooners

Associated Press Modified: September 2, 2012 at 2:46 am •  Published: September 2, 2012

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Texas-El Paso hounded Oklahoma's quarterback, blocked a couple of kicks, reeled off some big runs.

On the cusp of perhaps their biggest upset as a program, the Miners came up short.

UTEP missed three field goals and failed on a fake punt to set up the go-ahead score, failing to pull off a monumental upset by losing 24-7 to No. 4 Oklahoma on Saturday night.

"We had a great opportunity," UTEP coach Mike Price said.

The Sooners made sure they couldn't finish it off.

Laboring from the start of its opener, Oklahoma couldn't generate much of a running game or get anything going downfield.

Tied at halftime and up just 10-7 after three quarters, the Sooners finally created a gap from the gritty Miners by stuffing UTEP on a fake punt to set up an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Landry Jones to Brannon Green midway through the fourth quarter. They finally sealed it in the closing minutes, when Damien Williams burst through the right side and ran to the left pylon for a 65-yard touchdown run.

Jones threw for 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 21 of 36 passing, his timing with a new set of receivers not quite there yet. Williams had 104 yards on nine carries, giving the Sooners a respectable 205 yards on the ground with his big run late.

The defense was good most of the night, though did give up a few big runs.

The Sooners managed to get past all the mistakes and move on with a hard-fought win.

"We just weren't in synch," Jones said. "It was one of those things where we would have flashes of greatness, but it wouldn't be all as a team. But we came out with a W and that's what we're shooting for."

The 30-point underdog Miners weren't intimidated by the mighty Sooners, the highest-ranked team they had faced at home.

Nathan Jeffrey ran for 177 yards and returned a blocked punt 24 yards for a touchdown for UTEP, which also blocked a field goal to remain tied with Oklahoma at the half.

The Miners just couldn't finish it off.

Two kickers missed three field goals that would have given UTEP the lead and a fake punt that failed in their own end gave Oklahoma a short field to set up the Jones-to-Green TD that made it 17-7.

Close, but just short.

"The missed field goals were tough for the momentum and hard for the adversity," Price said. "You go all the way down there and stumble, then come back without anything."

The Sooners open this season, as they always seem to, with big expectations.

Last season, Oklahoma opened as the preseason No. 1, but never lived up to the billing, run over by Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State to see its national championship hopes end.

A big problem for the Sooners was their defense, which allowed Baylor's Robert Griffin III to throw for 479 yards and Texas Tech's Seth Doege to go for 441.

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