Bears open season with loss at No. 5 Oklahoma

NORMAN, Okla. – A furious pace out of the gates by No. 5-ranked Oklahoma was too much for visiting Missouri State to overcome here Saturday, as the Sooners rolled to a 48-0 victory over the Bears in the season opener for both teams.

Bears head coach Bobby Petrino said that just getting to start the season took his team pulling together and working hard just to have a chance to play in one of the nation’s top college football venues.

“I’m proud of the way our team stuck together through this entire process since we got started in August,” said Petrino. “They had a lot of different things thrown at them from games being changed, not knowing if we were going to play, guys being at practice, guys being out of practice. So I was proud of them and the way they prepared for this. It will definitely help us in the future. No doubt about it.”

Missouri State held the Sooners to just seven points in the second half and accounted for 98 of its 135 offensive yards in the third and fourth quarters. The Bears turned the ball over just once on the evening.

In his MSU debut, quarterback Jaden Johnson finished 9-of-19 through the air for 72 yards. His favorite target was Lorenzo Thomas who caught four passes for 46 yards, including a key 20-yarder.

Defensively, the Bears got a career-high 12 stops from Tylar Wiltz who accounted for eight solo stops and two of Missouri State’s 11 tackles for loss. Co-captain Titus Wall also contributed nine tackles for the defense, while Jeremy Webb stopped on OU drive deep in Bears territory with a third-quarter interception in the end zone.

But the second-half highlights were overshadowed by Oklahoma’s lightning quick start. The Sooners scored on each of their first seven possessions to lead 31-0 after the first quarter and 41-0 at the midway point.

OU quarterback Spencer Rattler completed 14-of-17 passes in the first 30 minutes for four touchdowns and 291 yards and did not play in the second half.

Seth McGowan and Charleston Rambo scored twice for the Sooners in their early barrage while Rattler connected with Mavin Mims for OU’s other first-half TD strike, a 58-yarder pass and catch. Stephen Johnson also added field goals of 42 and 22 yards to make it 41-0 at the intermission.

In the second half, the Bears forced OU into a punt on the Sooners’ first possession before Webb’s pick halted the home team in the red zone on its other third-quarter series.

Backup quarterback Tanner Mordechi accounted for the game’s only second half points, capitalizing on a short-field drive to connect to Finn Corwin from 16 yards out and make it 48-0 early in the fourth.

The Bears responded with their best drive of the night, taking the ball from their own 25 deep into OU territory. Johnson’s passes to Thomas and Isaac Smith got the ball to the OU 37. And after Johnson was shaken up, backup Jake Van Dyne came in to continue the drive to the 14 with Myron Mason providing ground support. However, after a false start penalty, an incomplete pass and a short gain on third down halted the MSU momentum, a 36-yard field goal attempt by newcomer Jose Pizano missed wide right to keep the Bears off the scoreboard.

“Offensively, it took a long time to get going at all,” said Petrino. “We did have some drives there where it looked like we were going to be able to put something together. A few drops on third and fourth downs that really hurt us. I’m definitely disappointed we weren’t able to get the ball into the end zone and score.”

The Bears will return to the road in two weeks when they travel to Conway, Ark., to battle UCA at 7 p.m on Sept. 26. Central Arkansas (1-1) is at Arkansas State next week.

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