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Parnell Motley’s lasting Bedlam moment

STILLWATER, Okla. – It’s not something Oklahoma cornerback Parnell Motley wanted to relive, but it’s something he wasn’t afraid to think about.

Bedlam at Boone Pickens Stadium was not kind to Motley in 2017, benched in the middle of the game in OU’s victory. He wanted one more chance.

Redemption has been the theme of Motley’s season, and he can check off another box after a masterful outing in OU’s 34-16 win at Oklahoma State on Saturday evening.

He started with a bang, closed it out in style and was good as he’s been perhaps ever in between in helping the Sooners to a dominating victory in Stillwater.

“He did it against good receivers in big-time environment. He was awesome. The pick. The strip. Tackled well. Covered well. They went at him with a lot of double moves,” head coach Lincoln Riley said. “He was in great position. I thought he really trusted his technique throughout the entire game. He made a lot of big plays. They gave him a lot of opportunities and he certainly responded.”

It’s far cry from where he was in Bedlam in 2017. An OU 62-52 victory that was one of many wins in recent years that felt like a loss.

Motley had six tackles, forced two fumbles, recovered a fumble and punctuated his outing with an interception. It was his first of the night after replay denied him of making one in the first half, saying he was out of bounds when he caught it.

“Man, nice to get that one,” Motley said. “I felt good to get that one, especially as a release, especially, they called you for your first one and especially when go back and forth nearly all season and being so close, I just wanted to close out on a good one. And especially I talked to y’all the other day how I want to improve my Bedlam game from two years ago.”

Motley got the ball rolling with two minutes left in the first quarter, stripping OSU’s Braydon Johnson on a short reception and then recovering it, too.

Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has preached about takeaways, and Motley has been someone who has answered the bell. Especially in the last month with the two-point interception vs. Iowa State, and the forced fumble at Baylor two weeks ago.

He’s been a difference maker, but he’s also been able to make the routine plays. His steady influence has been crucial down the stretch.

“Definitely, because I think I'm the best in the league and definitely best in the country,” Motley said. “I think no one can go past me, whoever's in front of me, I think I'm one of the best in the country. I was grateful to get a ball thrown my way. That's what I want them to do.

“Once I get one or two going, I'm gonna feed off that. Y'all know me. I'm gonna feed off energy like that. I get one or two going and it's gonna be a long day for the offense.”

Motley has never been one to be afraid of the moment, but he hasn’t always been someone who has been able to rise the occasion. The 2019 season has shown he can do just that, and Bedlam 2017 feels like a long time ago.

Not just in actual time, but in the way Motley has redeemed his OU experience.

“That's my boy right there,” defensive back Brendan Radley-Hiles said. “He balled. He balled. That's my brother. I'm so proud of him. He ended his regular season as a Sooner in a great fashion. I'm proud of my brother.”