Those six words describe the Oklahoma quarterback’s play in the final minutes of OU’s 50-49 win over West Virginia at Milan Puskar Stadium on Saturday night. WVU star Tavon Austin gave OU’s defense fits throughout the night, placing the game on Jones’ shoulders. The fifth-year senior responded with arguably the best performance of his career.
Bob Stoops and the Sooners escaped West Virginia with a shootout win.
While there were a bevy of key plays in the Sooners win, here are five key plays in the final seven minutes which helped OU keep its Big 12 title hopes alive.
This play was important because Jones showed great patience and stayed focus on the play despite having to move around in the pocket. It’s the type of scenario that has seen Jones hurry his throw in the past and make a game-changing mistake.
Not on Saturday night.
Jones was forced to step up into the pocket and move to his left to create the extra time needed to find Shepard in the middle of the field. It was a good route by Shepard who broke down the cushion of the safety then cut wide open across the middle of the field.
Kenny Stills' 7-yard touchdown reception on 3rd-and-6 with 4:10 left
West Virginia only rushed three defenders and OU kept Damien Williams and Trey Millard in to block. OU’s offensive scheme gets the credit for this touchdown as there was no Mountaineers defender within five yards of Stills despite WVU dropping eight into coverage.
Saunders ran a hook route and stopped right at the goal line, Stills slipped behind him along the back line of the end zone and the WVU defense showed a complete lack of awareness with all eyes on Jones and Saunders while Stills was running along the back of the end zone.
A good, high throw from Jones over the WVU defense for an easy touchdown. After three straight drives without points on the previous three possessions, Jones displayed the calmness and execution of a fifth-year senior on this drive. He was 5 of 6 for 77 yards on the drive.
For the third straight week, Clay comes up with a huge play that directly impacts a Sooners win.
After WVU had regained the lead with 2:53 left in the contest, Clay picked up the ball on the goal line on the far right side of the field. A kick return left was called, forcing the junior to run sideways towards OU’s sideline. His speed allowed him to outrun WVU’s coverage team to the middle of the field where he found a crease that got him past the first wave of defenders.
There was solid blocking by the Sooners on the return but much of the success of the play falls on the shoulders of Clay’s running ability. Thanks to Clay, the Sooners started the game-winning drive at their own 46-yard line.
Jones knew where he was going with the ball moments after it was snapped. Against the Mountaineers’ zone, Shepard ran a clearing route. Jones’ anticipation made the play as the ball was accurately thrown, on time into a hole in the zone. Thus, despite having three defenders in the area, there was nothing WVU could do to stop the completion.
Brown came back to the ball slightly, making the catch in front of two Mountaineer defenders and quickly turning up the field. He cruised to the 12-yard line before he was tackled.
Game-winning touchdown to Stills with 24 seconds left
Jones recognized the man-to-man coverage on Stills before the snap. And he had the confidence Stills would win the individual matchup. OU had three receivers to the right of the formation, which created the one-on-one matchup for Stills on the other side of the field.
Even though WVU safety Ishmael Banks was playing to keep Stills from getting inside of him, the Sooners receiver did. And Jones made a great throw for the game-winning touchdown.
Much like OU’s previous touchdown, the Sooners offensive scheme created a touchdown opportunity and the players executed it.
Summary: OU’s offensive coaching staff deserves a lot of credit, the Sooners offense won the game for OU. And it was their four-receiver package which played a huge role in the win. Stills, Shepard, Brown and Jalen Saunders each had critical plays for the Sooners and the offensive staff deserves credit for understanding who their top playmakers are and creating an offense to get them on the field together and put those threats in position to make plays.
Keep in mind the Sooners offense looks nothing like most people would have expected in August. Yet, the growth and progression of this offense was the driving force of the win and allowed multiple different Sooners to make critical plays at key moments on Saturday.