Oklahoma University split two matches with Tulsa RFC Saturday, ruing a slow start in the A-side match, and gaining some measure of revenge in the 2nds’ game.
For the second week in a row Oklahoma came out of the blocks slow, but this week it cost them against a good Tulsa club who took advantage of penalties and lapses in focus by the young OU team.
The whistle blew early and often in the first few minutes and it costs OU field position and possession. Five minutes in Tulsa capitalized after s series of penalties with OU alum Roger Gassett dotting one down in the corner. The young OU team responded with good defensive pressure and a couple of breaks but being offside and miscues around the scrum allowed Tulsa to capitalize on the inexperience of the Sooners with another try at the 15 minute mark.
The Sooners settled down a little bit as the half wore on and started getting the ball in their playmakers hands and finally found pay dirt in the 21st minute when wing Heath Thompson was sprung down the sideline. It looked like the OU was back on track but errors and the whistle stifled any continuity for the rest of the half. They did slow the Tulsa hard hitting back line attack down but another defensive error cost them again as Gassett slipped through a hole and launched the wing Gerad Crosswy for a try. The first half ended 19-7.
“We were not excited about our intensity level or our overall execution at the half,” said Oklahoma Coach Kenneth Forehand. “We made some adjustments and really felt like we were in a position to win the match still. We had some young players and some new combinations in there but we were confident in their ability to be successful.”
In the second half Oklahoma gave a better accounting of themselves. Tulsa did draw first blood, slotting a surprising drop goal from Crosswy, but then wing Brad Henry was set loose twice. First he capped off a nice weakside movement where flyhalf Kelton Miller slipped fullback Arrynn Wilkinson into gap who then fed Henry. The second was on a feed from flanker Rich Immel who was starting in his first game. One of the two tries was converted to close the gap to 22-19.
OU’s defense did a better job of slowing the Tulsa offence as the second half progressed but continued to show impatience in the Tulsa end often giving up possession after several successful phases. Finally the youngsters showed a little more patience, and on a penalty opted for the lineout. This resulted in a well-executed 15-meter maul that was put down by prop Austin Ryan to give OU its first lead of the match. With the conversion Oklahoma led 26-22.
“I really thought we had them when we went up with try from the maul,” said OU Coach Tyson Meek. “We had momentum, but we may have let the officiating bother us too much and lost our edge. Give Tulsa credit though. They capitalized on our mistakes.”
And that they did. Crosswy found space again and scored to put his side up 27-26. Following more OU penalties and mistakes, Gassett added three more to make it 30-26 with seven minutes to go. The Sooners kept coming after Tulsa and had a couple of opportunities to go up. But instead they found themselves scrambling to keep it close. Tulsa was awarded a penalty try to end it 37-26.
Oklahoma University 26
Tries: Henry(2), Thompson, Ryan
Convs: Miller 3
Tulsa RFC 37
Tries: Gassett, Crosswy(2), Turner, Penalty Try
Convs: Gassett 3
“ We could have played better today,” said OU captain Taylor Mokate. “I guess we learned that we have to create our own momentum and not get so frustrated when things don’t go our way. It was good that we were able to get some new guys on the pitch against a quality opponent before we head in the CPL.”
In the B-side match it was a different story as the OU side came out fasts and furious playing hard hitting defense and keeping the ball moving through hands on offence. Constant pressure led to many turnovers and Tulsa native Will Pham turned one into a long try on a feed from freshman and another Tulsa native Bobby Ipsom.
OU only gave up one try in the B-side and a lot of credit was given to the defensive effort
“It seemed like a lot of young guys had something to prove and were really tackling with enthusiasm,” Forehand said.
Meek echoed that sentiment,” It was great to see guys looking like they wanted a spot on the A-side.”
OU led 12-5 at the half. The second half saw OU with a lot of possession and lot of young athletes flying around the field. Another Tulsa native, Matt Long scored back to back tries on impressive support from the 2nd row.
Pham added another long try that went through several hand to round out the scoring. OU 29 Tulsa 7
“It is great to see the B-siders playing with such passion. Many of these guys are going to be pushing the people ahead of them soon for positions. That will only help the program,” said B-side captain Rees Dooley.