Perrion Winfrey delivered a number of impactful plays in his first season playing Division I football.
As Oklahoma fans might imagine, his favorite moment of 2020 happened in the Cotton Bowl.
“Out of all the moments, I’d say one of my favorite moments was the blocked kick against Texas,” Winfrey told SI Sooners Monday during a video press conference.
Winfrey’s blocked kick of Cameron Dicker’s 33-yard field goal in the third overtime preserved the Sooners’ chances in what became a four-OT victory — a victory that pushed OU out of an early season funk and back on the path to a sixth consecutive Big 12 Championship.
“I just feel like the odds (were) against us,” Winfrey said. “Everybody in the football world wanted to see us lose. That was a great play to push our momentum back in the right direction, and that helped us win that game. That was one of my favorite plays of the season.”
The desperation OU felt that sunny day in Dallas was born of the team’s 0-2 start in Big 12 Conference play, shocking losses — and fourth-quarter collapses — against Kansas State and Iowa State.
That’s where OU’s unlikely championship run began, so that’s where linebacker David Ugwoegbu’s favorite moments of 2020 lie.
“Other moments, aside from my personal plays, is when we lost to Iowa State,” Ugwoegbu told SI Sooners. “Just the locker room and the week following that, you could just feel the whole intensity, and the whole vibe, and whole mindset of the whole team geared toward everything we took for granted before, which caused us to lose those first two conference games.
“You could tell we threw all that out the window. You could just tell we were ready to work. For the weeks all the way to the end of the season, I think it showed that our whole mindset changed. That's one of my greatest memories. After the Iowa State loss, our team really came together. I just liked to see that. It was like our whole unit, we all had the same mindset. We were all on the same page.”
Of course, Ugwoegbu’s favorite personal moment also happened in the Cotton Bowl. Like Winfrey, he had made some good plays on defense, but his most important contributions happened on special teams.
In the second quarter, on fourth-and-1 from the Texas 27, Ugwoegbu broke through and blocked Ryan Bujcevski’s punt. He then chased down the ball and recovered it at the 20. That set up Marcus Major’s 7-yard touchdown run for a 17-10 OU lead.
“Yeah, for sure,” Ugwoegbu said. “That was a big moment too because I had a lot of family that came to see me play for the first time with the game being in Dallas and being in Texas.”
Winfrey can identify. As a junior college transfer, his contributions over the first three games consisted of six tackles and two tackles for loss.
Then against Texas, he was disruptive with two tackles, half a tackle for loss, a quarterback hurry, the blocked kick and a fumble that he and Brian Asamoah forced by chasing down running back Keontay Ingram from behind.
After Winfrey blocked Dicker’s field goal, OU’s Gabe Brkic hooked a 31-yard field goal of his own that would have won it. If Winfrey hadn’t come up with a way to block that kick, the Sooners might have gone on to lose.
But Winfrey explained the instinct behind his unexpected heroics.
“Honestly, I wasn’t even supposed to be over there,” Winfrey said. “But I had seen that seen that 75 (Junior Angilau) was breathing heavy, and he was tired.
“I asked one of my homies, Isaiah Thomas, told him to switch spots with me, and I just bull-rushed and put my hands up and made a play.”
Maybe it accident. Maybe it was instinct. Maybe it was just Sooner Magic. Whatever it was, Ugwoegbu felt it, too, with his sudden, game-changing blocked punt and athletic recovery. Individual plays made by Winfrey and Ugwoegbu and others that day led to a victory for the team.
“Just being able to make a play like that,” Ugwoegbu said, “in front of all my fans and in front of my family — it was an unbeatable feeling.”