No. 10 Oklahoma hammers Kansas 52-7
Published on -10/21/2012, 6:51 AM
The first chance he got to touch the ball on Saturday night, he made history.
Finch returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, completing the first tandem in Sooners history to score on a punt and a kickoff in the same game during a 52-7 rout of Kansas.
"I'm not really in the rotation on offense a lot, but we have a lot of playmakers that can make plays and I feel like I'm one of those playmakers on the team," Finch said. "I just try to make the best of the opportunities I have.
"I was just so happy to take it back."
In the process, he won one lucky fan $20,000 and extended Oklahoma's lead to 45-0 just 13 seconds after halftime.
Justin Brown, a transfer from Penn State, provided the first half of the unique double dip by returning a punt 90 yards and diving at the pylon for the score on his first chance after fumbling away a previous punt.
The Brown-Finch combo marked the first time the Sooners (5-1, 3-1 Big 12) have had two plays at least 90 yards long in the same game.
"I want our OU team known as a very explosive team," Finch said. "Him taking back a punt return and me taking back a kickoff return just really shows that we have explosive players and we can play with the best of them."
After coasting through an easy one against the last-place Jayhawks (1-6, 0-4), the Sooners get their chance at another big test when No. 5 Notre Dame visits Owen Field next Saturday night.
There wasn't anything close to a letdown in between that showdown and last week's 63-21 Red River Rivalry romp over Texas.
Landry Jones threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions as Oklahoma improved to 14-0 under coach Bob Stoops in games immediately after the Longhorns matchup.
"It wasn't hard to stay focused on Kansas. We know that Notre Dame's a great team but we're a great team also," Finch said. "So, we just wanted to close out Kansas and we know that the game ahead of us next Saturday is going to be a crazy game."
James Sims ran for 102 yards and a shutout-preventing touchdown run in the fourth quarter for Kansas, which lost its 16th straight conference game and 27th out of the last 28.
"It hurts because this is the first time this year that a game got away from us in the first half," said first-year coach Charlie Weis, who had found a way to keep his Jayhawks at least within 10 at halftime in the first six games this season.
"We haven't had a game get away from us like that one was."
At halftime of this one, Weis' challenge was entirely different: Encouraging his team to compete and avoid making "this one of the worst losses ever."
"It's 38-0 at halftime," Weis said. "What good could you say? What positive can you say when the score's 38-0, other than the fact, 'Is this going to be 76-0?'"
The Jayhawks never could crack Oklahoma's first-team defense, which hasn't given up a point in two straight weeks.
For their part, Jones and the first-team offense scored on their first six possessions — settling for Michael Hunnicutt's 37-yard field goal on their first drive and then scoring touchdowns on the next five.
The streak was finally broken up in the third quarter, after Jones was called for intentional grounding to set up a second-and-26 hole that proved too much to overcome. That ended up being the final series for the starters, who left with a 52-0 lead after just 46 offensive snaps.
"Just the way we prepared this week for this game, knowing that people were overlooking it and looking to next week, just showed a lot of character for us," said Kenny Stills, who caught a 44-yard TD pass from Jones.
"I feel like we're really excited for that."
Kansas went with Michael Cummings as its starting quarterback, after he'd been at the helm as the Jayhawks rallied for 14 straight points and had the ball with a chance to go ahead in the fourth quarter of a 20-14 loss to Oklahoma State last week.
He and Dayne Crist, who'd been the starter the rest of the season, were equally ineffective.
Cummings went 10 for 21 for 111 yards with two interceptions. Crist was 3 of 6 for 13 yards and fumbled away an early opportunity for the Jayhawks to keep it interesting.
After Josh Ford scooped up Brown's fumble at the 11-yard line, Crist was off-target on a first-down swing pass to Tre' Parmalee, forcing him to fall down with no one around him in the flat. Then Cummings threw incomplete into the end zone before Tom Wort sacked Crist and knocked the ball free, with defensive tackle Casey Walker rumbling 45 yards on the return.
Instead of interrupting the Sooners' momentum, Oklahoma kept steamrolling toward the showdown with the Fighting Irish.
"We're excited for next week," Stills said. "We just hope to continue to keep things rolling, playing all together, firing on all cylinders and hopefully we'll have a great outcome next week."