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September 2, 2006

UAB gives Oklahoma all it can handle

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Game Highlights

NORMAN, Okla. -Adrian Peterson ran for 139 yards and scored twice in the second half, saving No. 10 Oklahoma from the embarrassment of losing a second consecutive home opener with a 24-17 win against UAB on Saturday night.

With Paul Thompson proving inconsistent in his return to quarterback after nearly a year away, Peterson took control in the second half running for 83 yards as the Sooners' offense became almost completely reliant on him.

Peterson got the ball only nine times in the first half, but the Sooners (1-0) went to him on 11 straight plays after halftime. His sixth carry in a row resulted in a 4-yard touchdown run for a 14-7 Sooners lead.

The 2004 Heisman runner-up later atoned for a fumble on his eighth consecutive rush by taking a screen pass from Thompson 69 yards down the right sideline for a score that gave Oklahoma the lead for good at 21-17.

When the string of 11 straight Peterson touches finally ended, so did the Sooners' offensive success. Juaquin Iglesias dropped a potential touchdown pass in the front of the end zone, and Oklahoma had to settle for a 30-yard Garrett Hartley field goal.

That proved to be enough, though. Swayze Waters missed a 43-yard field goal to end one drive for UAB (0-1), and Oklahoma took advantage of new NCAA timing rules to run off the final 2:22 after the Blazers' final possession ended with a punt.

Despite the win, Oklahoma is left wondering whether Thompson is an able replacement for Rhett Bomar, who was dismissed last month after investigators discovered he had broken NCAA rules by taking money for work he did not perform at a Norman car dealership. Bomar led OU to wins in six of its last seven games last season.

Thompson, who was the starter in Oklahoma's 17-10 upset loss to TCU in the season opener last year, had no signs of rust early after moving back to quarterback from receiver following Bomar's dismissal a month ago. Thompson had been practicing exclusively at receiver from the Sooners' win against Oregon in the Holiday Bowl last December until fall camp began.

He opened 8-for-10, including two connections with tight end Joe Jon Finley on a swift, two-play 46-yard scoring drive on Oklahoma's second possession. Finley's wide-open grab along the right hash for a 21-yard score put the Sooners up 7-0.

Thompson's production dropped off from there. Passes started flying wide, short or high, and he had two throws picked off in the final five minutes of the first half - one on a deflection off Iglesias' hands as he leaped to catch a high pass and another as Chris Felder slid in front of Iglesias at the UAB 3 to prevent a Sooners score.

In the second half, he threw only five passes as the Sooners placed their full emphasis on Peterson. Thompson finished with 227 yards on 14-for-24 passing with two interceptions and two touchdowns.

UAB pulled starting quarterback Chris Williams - who nearly led the Blazers to an upset at No. 4 Georgia in a 16-13 loss in 2003 - after two series without a first down, and junior Sam Hunt proved to be an effective replacement.

After entering in the second quarter, he immediately led a 15-play, 80-yard scoring drive that Corey White capped with a 5-yard TD run. White later added a touchdown on a 24-yard screen pass from Hunt, and the Blazers led 17-14 after Peterson's fumble led to a 32-yard field goal by Waters.

Hunt completed 9 of 15 passes for 149 yards and also led the Blazers with 65 rushing yards.

For more coverage of the Oklahoma Sooners, check out SoonerScoop.com and for more coverage of the UAB Blazers, check out BlazerSportsReport.com.

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