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Updated: Sunday, October 6, 2002 12:55 AM EDT
NCAA FOOTBALL RECAP
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(3) Oklahoma 31, Missouri 24
OKLAHOMA SOONERS
Oklahoma Sooners
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MISSOURI TIGERS
Missouri Tigers
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COLUMBIA, Missouri (Ticker) -- It took some trickery to keep the luster on next week's Red River Rivalry.

Matt McCoy threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chris Chester on a fake field goal with 6:33 remaining as third-ranked Oklahoma remained unbeaten with a 31-24 Big 12 Conference victory over stubborn Missouri.

One week ahead of their annual showdown with second-ranked Texas, the Sooners (5-0, 1-0 Big 12 South) were given all they could handle by a Missouri team that was beaten handily by Bowling Green three weeks ago.

Trailing 24-23, Oklahoma lined up for a potential go-ahead 31-yard field goal. But McCoy, a junior safety who doubles as holder, rolled out and found Chester for his first collegiate touchdown pass.

"It's something we prepared for all week and something we always do," Chester said. "It was a pretty gutsy call, and I'm really excited about making the catch, especially because I bobbled it a bit."

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said he went for the fake because he did not have confidence in his kicking game.

"I didn't feel that any kickers were kicking very well off the grass as high as it was, as wet as it was," he explained. "I felt that the opportunity was there, not just to Chester, but the kicker would have been wide-open. I did not want to leave it in the hands of a young kicker."

"That was a great call by Oklahoma because it worked," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "We had two guys in position, but they just didn't make the play. They made the play, that's why they're undefeated right now."

Quarterback Brad Smith, who accounted for 391 yards of total offense, led the Tigers into Oklahoma territory in the final minute but was sacked on 4th-and-6 from the 35.

"We're disappointed and we're certainly frustrated," Pinkel said. "When you get a chance to win a football game, a close game, you can't turn the ball over, you can't give up big plays. There are a lot of things we did that you can't do to win a game like this."

Texas also got a scare before holding on for a 17-15 victory over Oklahoma State.

Smith rushed for a career-high 213 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, breaking the school record for a quarterback set by Corby Jones in 1996. He became the first player to top 200 yards against Oklahoma since Texas' Hodges Mitchell on October 9, 1999.

"I just do what the team needs me to do," said Smith, a redshirt freshman. "If I have to make a big play, I'll try. I'm grateful for the opportunity, for playing well against a great team, but the loss is all the matters in the end."

"Yeah, Brad Smith amazes me," Pinkel said. "He's 18 years old. This is his fifth game. He's playing against some pretty good guys. He's been amazing for about a year and a half now. But he forced a couple of balls in critical situations. I'll still suggest he'll learn from that. His upside is pretty remarkable."

The Sooners took advantage of good field position to score first late in the first quarter. They moved 45 yards in just four plays and grabbed a 7-0 lead on a two-yard run by redshirt freshman Kejuan Jones.

Oklahoma limited the Tigers to 26 yards in the first quarter, then extended its lead six minutes into the second on a 20-yard field goal by Trey DiCarlo.

Missouri's Mike Matheny hit the left upright with a 26-yard field goal attempt, but the Tigers got on the board the next time they had the ball as Smith broke over right tackle and raced 25 yards to make it 10-7 at halftime.

The Sooners struck quickly in the second half, stretching their lead to 17-7 on a 65-yard strike from Nate Hybl to Curtis Fagan on their fifth play from scrimmage. After forcing Missouri to punt, they threatened to pull away as Quentin Griffin rambled 53 yards for a touchdown to make it 23-7.

Griffin paced Oklahoma with 105 yards on 16 carries.

The Tigers responded with the next 17 points.

Smith accounted for all the offense on a 77-yard drive, capping it with a 23-yard toss to Justin Gage. A 38-yard field goal by Matheny got Missouri within 23-17 heading to the fourth quarter.

"When things got tough out there, especially in the third quarter when they took a sizeable lead, that tested our character," Pinkel said. "I was pleased from that standpoint. We fought to the end against a real good team."

After DiCarlo missed a 43-yard field goal attempt 2 1/2 minutes into the final period, the Tigers faced 74 yards in barely two minutes and grabbed their first lead on a 25-yard burst by Smith.

"He was big-time," McCoy said of Smith. "He was just so mobile and makes so many plays. He's a great quarterback and he's going to win a lot of games for that team."

Hybl was 20-for-32 for 303 yards and hit Curtis Fagan for the two-point conversion after the fake field goal put the Sooners in front.


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