OU's Riley wasn't happy with referee's controversial clock reset

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley was less than thrilled when officials added time to the fourth-quarter clock during the Sooners’ 53-45 win over Texas in four overtimes Saturday at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

NORMAN — Thirty-nine seconds were incorrectly added to the fourth quarter following a first-down review during Oklahoma’s game against Texas on Saturday, the Big 12 admitted on Monday.

“Big 12 Conference football officials liaison Greg Burks acknowledges that a timing error did occur. The play clock should have been set to 5:57 after that play,” the league said in a statement obtained by The Transcript and first reported by The Athletic and Tulsa World.

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley addressed the error — which reset the clock to 6:36 — that provided Texas a longer fourth quarter to rally from a 14-point deficit during the Red River showdown.

The Sooners still beat the Longhorns 53-45 in quadruple overtime, but the contest might have never went beyond the fourth period if the Big 12 officiating crew didn’t add 39 seconds to the final quarter following the first-down review.

“We were not happy about it on our sideline,” said Riley during his Monday teleconference. “We didn’t get a ton of explanation on it.”

The reset came after Longhorn quarterback Sam Ehlinger received the ball on 3rd-and-4 with 6:06 left in the fourth quarter, was flushed out of the pocket and darted for the first-down marker.

Ehlinger seemingly picked up the fresh set of downs after stepping out of bounds near the Texas 20 with 5:57 left. The clocked rolled down to 5:50 after stopping briefly for the chain crew to reset. The game’s officials halted play, however, to see if Ehlinger actually got the first down.

Following a lengthy review, the Texas quarterback was considered a yard short, bringing a 4th-and-1 up for the Longhorns. Brandon Cruse, the head official, then asked the clock operator to reset to 6:36.

“When they came over the loudspeaker and said 6:36, we obviously knew that wasn’t correct,” Riley said. “I thought we made a fairly good argument on the sideline, but the officials were pretty convinced that it was right.”

Texas converted the 4th-and-1 but later ended the drive on an interception to OU defensive back Woodi Washington in the end zone.

The extra time allowed the Longhorns to get down to OU’s 2-yard line with 14 seconds left, however, and score an overtime-forcing touchdown.

• TJ Pledger, David Ugwoegbu receive Big 12 weekly awards: Oklahoma landed two Big 12 weekly honors following its 53-45 win over Texas.

OU running back T.J. Pledger was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Week, while linebacker David Ugwoegbu was named Special Teams Players of the Week.

Pledger rushed for a single game career-best 131 rushing yards on 22 carries. He scored a pair of touchdowns, both of which came in the third quarter and gave OU a 31-17 advantage.

Ugwoegbu was honored for blocking a punt from Texas’ Ryan Bujcevski and recovering the ball at the Longhorns’ 5-yard line during the second quarter of Saturday’s Red River rivalry.

OU was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, stemming from its celebration of the blocked punt. The Sooners still managed to get in the end zone on the drive, scoring on a 7-yard run from Marcus Major that gave them a 17-10 lead.

Both Pledger and Ugwoegbu have never received a Big 12 weekly award before Monday.

• OU reports 5 active COVID-19 cases among players, staff across all sports: The University of Oklahoma’s athletics department reports five people tested positive for COVID-19 among 439 players and 136 staff members screened from Oct. 4-10.

The players and staff members span all of OU’s athletic programs.

The school says there are four active cases among players and one among athletics staff.

Ten staff members and 164 players have recovered from COVID-19 since OU began testing this summer.

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