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Dan Jenkins
October 18, 1971
Darrell Royal invented college football's most effective offense, but last week the Sooners made him wish he hadn't
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October 18, 1971

Oklahoma Wins The Wishbone War

Darrell Royal invented college football's most effective offense, but last week the Sooners made him wish he hadn't

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Asked later about his nifty little dance step, Pruitt said, "It was just something that came to me in midrun."

Texas had the alibi that it was a fairly damaged team physically even before the game started. Quarterback Eddie Phillips was still slowed by an injured hamstring and was not supposed to play. Phillips would not have played, in fact, if Donnie Wigginton, his backup, had not been injured in the third quarter. Even so, Eddie was slow, hardly himself.

But Oklahoma was not at full strength either. Joe Wylie, the other halfback, who is almost as effective as Pruitt, did not play. And Oklahoma lost Raymond Hamilton, its best defender, in the first quarter. It was a standoff on the alibis, therefore. What the injury to Wigginton did, however, was spoil a pretty good fairy tale had he stayed in the game and kept up what he had been doing. Like running for two touchdowns, of five and 44 yards, and keeping Texas in the track meet.

Wigginton is a little guy who hung around to play for a fifth year, even though he's married, his wife is expecting, Phillips was ahead of him at quarterback and West Texas State offered him a coaching job last spring in the hope he would help the team install the Wishbone T.

Until a couple of weeks ago against Texas Tech, when he got his first chance to start and led the Longhorns to a 28-0 victory, the biggest thrill in Donnie Wigginton's football career had come two seasons ago when he reached up and caught a high snapback and then placed the ball down for Happy Feller to kick the extra point that beat Arkansas 15-14 in that season's game of the century.

But it was Wigginton who managed to shove Texas back into the Oklahoma game by driving the Longhorns 55 yards to the touchdown that narrowed the gap to 28-21. This was a big score, for it reminded Oklahoma that Texas could still move the ball. And even though the Sooners got a field goal just seconds before the half to make it 31-21, the second half was going to decide the game, because you knew the defenses figured to improve.

The game turned in Oklahoma's favor for good in the third quarter. The Longhorns got a big break when they recovered a Sooner fumble at the OU 24, but Texas couldn't score. An offsides penalty was damaging, and then Wigginton got his ribs separated.

Oklahoma celebrated the stopping of Texas by driving methodically 80 yards for the touchdown that made it 38-21, removing most of the doubt. The Sooners did it with what was an unusual weapon for them—the pass.

Mildren hit his only toss of the day in the drive (he tried just two and the other was intercepted), and it was a beauty, a high 40-yarder to his old high school buddy from Abilene, Jon Harrison, who slid out of bounds at the Texas seven-yard line. On the next play Mildren ran the keeper and scored standing up. In that moment Jack Mildren, holding up the football in the end zone while cannons went off and the blare of Boomer Sooner echoed through downtown, must have felt true ecstasy.

This, after all, is the same Mildren who was the most wanted recruit in Texas in 1968 and who led a number of colleges a frenzied chase (SI, Sept. 9, 1968), before settling on Oklahoma.

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