Ekwerekwu offers bright spot

MU’s freshman receiver catches two passes for 66 yards to set up Tigers’ lone touchdown.
Sunday, October 19, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:03 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

NORMAN, Okla. – Memories of Justin Gage might fade a little sooner than expected.

Freshman Brad Ekwerekwu could be Missouri’s next big-play wide receiver.

Ekwerekwu, from Arlington, Texas, made two second-quarter catches for 66 yards in the Tigers’ 34-13 loss to No. 1 Oklahoma on Saturday.

On first down at the Tigers’ 24, Ekwerekwu ran down the left sideline, but almost came to a stop while waiting for quarterback Brad Smith’s pass. On the catch. Ekwerekwu gained 40 yards, and the Tigers scored on the drive to tie the score at 10.

Ekwerekwu said he thought the play changed the momentum for the Tigers, at least for the time being.

“I was just trying to get the offense moving, momentum going,” Ekwerekwu said.

Ekwerekwu also made a 26-yard reception later in the quarter to bring the ball to the Missouri 45. Defensive lineman Dan Cody tackled tailback Zack Abron for an 8-yard loss two players later, though, and the Tigers punted.

Ekwerekwu played against Kansas, and made a 31-yard kickoff return against Nebraska.

PUNT GAME LOOKING UP: Senior Todd Gohsler started at punter for the Tigers after taking over for junior Brock Harvey in the second half against Nebraska on Oct. 11. Gohsler averaged 41 yards in his eight punts and kicked the ball inside the Sooners’ 20 three times.

Oklahoma punt returner Antonio Perkins returned one of his punts for a touchdown, though.

“I’m not satisfied because of the punt return for a touchdown,” Gohsler said. “I planted badly and then I got blocked on it too, so that hurt.”

Harvey, the starter for the Tigers’ first six games, came in to punt in the third quarter, but ran an unsuccessful fake. He ran to the right and threw an incomplete pass at Missouri’s 46.

RECORDS WATCH: With his 69-yard return in the second quarter, Perkins tied two NCAA records. Perkins, a junior, has four touchdowns this season and seven in his career.

“You just hold your breath every time he has it,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said.

Abron moved up a spot on Missouri’s all-time rushing leader list. He rushed for 11 yards, bringing his career total to 2,618 – third on the list.

Oklahoma wide receiver Mark Clayton’s 39-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was No. 14 of his career. The catch, which gave Oklahoma a 17-10 lead, moves Clayton to third in the Sooners’ record books.

Trent Smith holds the Oklahoma record with 16 touchdowns.

FIRST TIME, EVERY TIME: Oklahoma scored on its first drive of the game on running back Renaldo Works’ 1-yard run with 9:08 left in the first quarter. The Sooners have scored on their first possession in every game this season, with four field goals and three touchdowns.

“It shows me they’re prepared and ready,” Stoops said.

The Tigers’ defense helped the Sooners with two penalties on the drive, being whistled on one face mask and one pass interference call.

SEEING STARS: Oklahoma honored actor James Garner during a second-quarter timeout.

Garner was born in Norman in 1928. He starred in Maverick and The Rockford Files and in several movies.

“It’s always wonderful when I come home to see OU play,” Garner said. “I love my Sooners. My state, my city, all these great fans. I enjoyed that. That’s a great thrill.”

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