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Oklahoma Routed The Red Wolves 73-0 In Opener

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Coach Butch Jones of Arkansas State was surprised by Oklahoma’s improved approach.

On Saturday, No. 20 Oklahoma thrashed the Red Wolves 73-0 after Dillon Gabriel completed 19 of 22 passes for 308 yards and two scores, all in the first half.
Since 1917, Oklahoma had not opened a season with a larger victory margin.

“There was a marked difference with this football team than what we saw on video,” Jones said. “They’re tough. They’re physical. I thought they out-athleted us. The speed differential is probably the most glaring I’ve probably seen in my career.”

Gabriel contributed to Oklahoma’s first-half 45-0 victory by scoring on the ground as well. Before the half, the Sooners accumulated 437 yards while limiting Arkansas State to 106.

Jackson Arnold, a five-star recruit and a freshman quarterback for Oklahoma, played most of the second half. On his 19th birthday, he rushed for 39 yards and another touchdown while completing all 11 of his throws for 114 yards.

For the Sooners (1-0), walk-on Tawee Walker scored his first two scores while running for nine catches for 56 yards. Gavin Freeman also scored twice.

Under Brent Venables, Oklahoma’s second-year coach, it was their first shutout. The Red Wolves (1-0) were limited to 208 total yards and 10 first downs by the Sooners.

Equally amazing was Oklahoma’s offense, which amassed 642 yards without a turnover. For games with at least 15 pass attempts, it set a school record with a completion percentage of.909.

“You want to see discipline, which we showed, and see some physicality and toughness,” Venables said. “We saw that. And then the efficiency, taking care of the ball — we did that on offense.”

For Arkansas State, Colorado transfer J.T. Shrout completed 12 of his 26 throws for 148 yards. For the first time since Georgia held them without a goal in 2019, the Red Wolves were shut out.

Arkansas State racked up 111 yards from 14 penalties.

“I know the caliber of football team that we played is very, very good,” Jones said. “But we still talk about playing to a standard, and we did not play to a high level to a standard of performance that we talk about. And so all we can do is learn from it.”

On the first play of the game, Drake Stoops scored Oklahoma’s first touchdown with a 10-yard catch and run.

Just over two minutes into the game, Oklahoma took a 14-0 lead thanks to Freeman’s 82-yard punt return for a score. Since Dede Westbrook returned one for a touchdown against Kansas in 2016, it was Oklahoma’s first punt return for a score. Gabriel’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Freeman gave the Sooners a 28-0 lead.

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