Landry Jones crucial in Bedlam win
The senior quarterback says there's 'no better way to go out' in last home game
NORMAN, Okla. -- As he waited for his postgame TV interview, Landry Jones turned to the booming Owen Field crowd and pumped his fist. When he finished, Jones threw his game towel into the stands, then ran down the sideline, slapping hands with fans on his way to the locker room.
Back in the spring, Jones said he came back to Oklahoma to capture the national championship and win the Heisman Trophy. Neither of those things will happen. But after trailing Oklahoma State the entirety of Saturday afternoon, Jones led Oklahoma on another do-or-die, fourth-quarter touchdown drive to send the game to overtime, where the Sooners prevailed 51-48 on Brennan Clay's 18-yard scoring scamper to reclaim in-state supremacy.[+] EnlargeBrett Deering/Getty ImagesIn his last home game as a Sooner, Landry Jones was essential in his team's win over in-state rival Oklahoma State.
What a way for Jones to go out in his final game in Norman. What a way for the Sooners to close out a season that was teetering on the edge of calamity while setting the stage for next year.
"No better way," Jones said. "No better way to go out."
Jones completed 46 of 71 passes -- both school records -- for 500 yards and three touchdowns, giving him more than 1,000 yards passing over the past two games and the Big 12 career passing yards record. But Jones will be remembered most for the way he finished out the last two games.
A week after finding wideout Kenny Stills in the final seconds to knock off West Virginia, Jones bailed out the Sooners again with another clutch, come-from-behind touchdown drive.
"He's never the guy on the sideline who feels we're out of a game," Stills said. "We were confident, we trusted in him -- we put the ball in the end zone."
With the Cowboys clinging to a 45-38 lead, Oklahoma took over at its own 14-yard line with just over six minutes remaining. The drive got off to a disastrous start. After a false start, the Sooners faced third-and-8, prompting coach Bob Stoops to begin weighing whether he should go for it on fourth down. Jones didn't give Stoops the chance to make that decision, though, delivering a strike near the sideline to Jalen Saunders for a first down.
Six completions later, Jones had the Sooners inside the Oklahoma State 5-yard line. On fourth-and-1, Jones turned the reins over to Blake Bell, who plowed forward out of the "Belldozer" for a 4-yard touchdown on the 17th play of the drive to tie the game with four seconds remaining.
"What more do you want from the guy?" Stoops said of his quarterback after the game. "He was fabulous out there tonight. Threw the ball all over the field, threw it well, threw bullets everywhere -- those weren't wobblers.
"Landry was great."
Jones' otherwise-sterling career has been marred by head-scratching gaffes, two of which doomed the Sooners in their loss earlier this season to Kansas State.
Jones had another one of those against the Cowboys. When his protection broke down off play-action in the first quarter, Jones tossed the ball right into the chest of Oklahoma State linebacker Lyndell Johnson, who raced 46 yards to the Oklahoma 9-yard line. Two plays later, the Cowboys took a 14-0 lead.
Oklahoma State jumped to a similar lead last season, then routed the Sooners 44-10 in the worst game of Jones' career.
This time, the Sooners never lost confidence in their quarterback. And Jones never lost faith in himself.
After the rough start, Jones and the Oklahoma passing game were virtually unstoppable the rest of the way. Justin Brown, Saunders and Stills all finished with more than 100 yards receiving -- the first time in school history OU had three 100-yard receivers in the same game.
"Football is a crazy game," Jones said. "There's ups and downs, good and bad. You can't ride the wave. You can be too much on edge, and you can't be so low no one feels your presence. You have to stay somewhere in that middle ground, realizing who you are and what you're capable of and what type of offense you are.
"When you need a play, just go out and make it."
Bedlam was definitely crazy, but unlike in years past, this wasn't "Sooner Magic" or a "Poke Choke." Oklahoma State has emerged as a worthy adversary -- in many ways more worthy than Texas. After getting blasted in their previous four trips to Norman, these Cowboys were up to the challenge.
This shootout was loaded with several individual performances worth noting on both sides. Former third-string quarterback Clint Chelf was cool and calm in a stadium where many Oklahoma State signal-callers had wilted before him. He turned the ball over once but made play after play with his arm and his underrated wheels.
Joseph Randle showed why he's the best running back in the league, pounding away for four touchdowns. Josh Stewart, who had 150 yards receiving, is quickly proving to be Justin Blackmon's heir-apparent, as well.
Stills, Brown and Saunders were all tremendous, too, especially Saunders, whose thrilling 81-yard punt return touchdown gave the Sooners life in the fourth quarter and a chance to tie the game with a two-point conversion.
But it was Jones who stood out above all.
He found Brown for the two-point conversion to tie the game at 38. Then, after the Cowboys regained the momentum with another touchdown, Jones came right back with the game-tying drive.
"Pretty amazing," Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "People can write and say whatever they want, but he has stood the test of the time. He will go down as one of the all-time greats."
With two losses, the Sooners are firmly out of the national championship picture. But they remain within striking distance of a shared or outright Big 12 title -- depending on what happens next weekend -- and a BCS bowl berth.
Neither of those things would be possible without Jones and his late-game heroics.
"You always remember those tight games," Jones said, "those games that you have to come from behind."
Oklahoma fans everywhere will, too.
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