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October 7, 2006DALLAS - In less than a month, Colt McCoy has become a thoroughbred.
A more mature McCoy threw a pair of touchdown passes in the pivotal third quarter as No. 7 Texas maintained control of the "Red River Rivalry" with a 28-10 Big 12 Conference victory over No. 14 Oklahoma.
Selvin Young ran for 60 yards and a touchdown for the Longhorns (5-1, 2-0 Big 12 South), who forced five turnovers and controlled Adrian Peterson as they kept alive their faint hopes of repeating as national champions.
A redshirt freshman, McCoy had very big shoes to fill as he replaced the sensational Vince Young, who left for the NFL after leading Texas to its first title in 35 years.
McCoy did not pass his first test, succumbing to the pressure and playing poorly in a 24-7 home loss to top-ranked Ohio State on September 9, throwing for just 154 yards with an interception.
"I guess the biggest thing in the OSU game was that we had the ability to make plays and things just didn't fall for us," McCoy said. "The biggest thing I learned from that is that we hate to lose. Being in that situation and coming out here in a big game, it was fun. We came together."
With three more starts under his belt, McCoy was much better. He completed 11-of-18 passes for 108 yards without an interception and took charge in the third quarter, when the Longhorns began to assert themselves against the Sooners (3-2, 0-1 South).
"Colt has grown so much since Ohio State," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "He kept the ball moving."
"He managed the game for them in a really big way," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "He took care of the football and that's a big factor in these big games."
On Texas' first possession of the second half, McCoy identified single coverage on Limas Sweed and found him behind D.J. Wolfe down the left sideline with a perfectly thrown deep ball for a 33-yard touchdown and a 14-10 lead.
"The offensive line gave me a lot of protection," McCoy said. "It really feels good to come out here and play great. This team came together today."
"I saw a young quarterback grow up," said Sweed, who was limited to two catches for 38 yards. "I saw him make plays with his feet. I saw him scramble and make a pass to Quan (Crosby). I saw him reading the defense and I just saw him growing up today."
The Longhorns forced a punt and began marching again. On third down from the Sooners 7, McCoy lobbed a well-timed pass to the right corner of the end zone for Jordan Shipley, who turned a down-and-out into a fade route and beat Nic Harris to make it 21-10 with 2:46 left.
"He's maturing," Selvin Young said. "His confidence level is just going through each and everybody on the offense. When we got a chance to take it over, I told him to take it over. It's your baby."
The Sooners fought back, driving into Texas territory. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Paul Thompson found Juaquin Iglesias with a 14-yard pass on third down. But Iglesias fumbled at the 14.
The ball was picked up by linebacker Robert Killebrew, who returned it 24 yards before losing his helmet on a flying tackle by Peterson, who no longer could contain his frustration.
Peterson carried 25 times for 109 yards and scored Oklahoma's only touchdown on a 29-yard run in the second quarter. But he lost a fumble in Texas territory on the final play of the first period and never got loose against a defense that came in second in the nation against the rush.
"The Texas defense is real fast," Peterson said. "I feel like we moved the ball. ... The turnovers just kept holding us back."
With 10:37 to play, Thompson threw a swing pass that bounced off Peterson's hands for an apparent incompletion. But it was ruled a lateral and returned for a touchdown by cornerback Aaron Ross, who added a pair of interceptions later in the period.
"They said he threw at the 12 and it landed at the 12," Stoops said. "They didn't say anything about where it hit Adrian in the hands. That's the part I didn't understand. It doesn't seem like it matters where the ball bounces if it's already been touched."
Jamaal Charles had 70 yards on 12 carries for the Longhorns, who improved to 45-35-4 vs. the Sooners with their second straight win in the series.
"When we came to this game in '98, it had lost its luster and it's got it back," Brown said. "The fans are back. The TV's back."
Thompson was 15-of-27 for 209 yards and Iglesias caught five passes for 69 yards for Oklahoma, which did not force a turnover and committed 11 penalties for 72 yards.
"The issues were penalties and turnovers. They killed our drives," Stoops said. "It doesn't take much in these big games to put yourself behind the eight-ball."
Young's 15-yard TD run capped a nine-play, 62-yard drive that gave Texas a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Midway through the second period, Thompson found Jermaine Gresham for 41 yards. A five-yard run by Peterson preceded his TD scamper, capping a 75-yard drive that lasted three plays and 51 seconds.
Before the gun, Thompson engineered a nine-play, 63-yard drive that ended with a 35-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley that gave OU a 10-7 lead.
"We had a great first quarter and they took momentum back from us in the second quarter and scored right before the half," Brown said. "Ninety-one percent of the time when a team scores right before the half, the team that gives it up loses. I was really proud of the way we responded in the third and took the momentum back."
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