Circus calls for
three receivers to line up to the right, one of whom is speedy senior Jerard
Rabb. A fourth--Drisan James, who'd already caught a pair of touchdown passes
against the Sooners--is split to the left. He runs a 15-yard square-in and
looks for the pass. After making the catch, he turns upfield for a step or two
before pivoting and pitching the ball to Rabb, who by this time should be
crossing the field behind him, going in the opposite direction. The play is
harder to execute than it sounds.
One of the reasons
the play seldom works in practice, it turns out, is that Drisan and Rabb tend
to go all Meadowlark Lemon. "Drisan will try to flip the ball behind his
back," says Hamdan. "When Rabb gets it, he'll go with a
through-the-legs pitch to Ian."
Oh, yes-- Johnson
and Zabransky are charged with pursuing the play, in case more laterals become
they weren't. That had everything to do with James's gifts as a thespian. He
caught Z's pass three yards shy of the first down, tucked the ball and took a
step upfield. Five Sooners converged, then gouged out chunks of the turf trying
to change direction as Rabb took James's perfect pitch going the other way.
sees all that green in front of him," says offensive coordinator Bryan
Harsin, "his body language is like, Holy crap! Then he finds another
gear." Oklahoma corner Lendy Holmes was closing, but Rabb dived into the
end zone with seven seconds left.
remember who we stole it from," says Petersen of Circus, "but we've had
it for three years." He tweaked it last season. In the old version Raab
would take the pitch while running toward the three-receiver side. "I
remember looking at it and saying, 'There are too many people over here,' says
Petersen. "Everybody was like, Hey, whatever. If we have to use this, we're
raves about the players' execution. "You might expect some panic, some guys
freaking out, running the route five yards short," he says. "But the
pocket was firm, the throw was on the money. Drisan's depth was perfect. He
makes the catch, takes a couple of steps upfield, which pulls the corner and
the backside safety down. And his pitch hits Jerard in the belly
the composure he showed under intense pressure, James shrugs it off. "To be
honest," he says, "I didn't realize it was fourth down."
There was some
thought, even then, of ending the game on the next play. Petersen decided to
kick the point and take his chances in overtime. "I felt like we had the
momentum back," he explains. "I wanted to get into overtime and see
what we could do. Then we won the coin toss, so I'm thinking, O.K., this
thing's going our way."
Oklahoma's first play in the extra session proved to be Peterson's final carry
as a Sooner. The NFL-bound junior bounced a stretch play to the outside, ran
through two tackles like a man pushing through a turnstile and scored on a
25-yard run. To that point the Boise State defense had stood toe-to-toe with
Oklahoma, forcing four turnovers and holding Peterson to 52 yards rushing.
Marty Tadman, a 5'11", 182-pound, prodigiously tattooed safety--a guy who
looks like he should be dispensing espresso shots and attitude at a coffee bar
near you--had picked off two passes, returning one for a touchdown. But now the
Broncos were running on fumes. "Our D was gassed," says senior
linebacker Korey Hall, the WAC defensive player of the year.