Not too often in the Bob Stoops era have the Sooners staged a rally in the final two minutes to win. For one thing, they’re usually ahead. NFL quarterbacks get such an opportunity 5-6 times a year. Landry Jones has had the opportunity only five times in his OU career.
But Landry delivered, taking the Sooners to the game-winning touchdown over the final 2:53 to beat West Virginia 50-49 Saturday night.“Really excited about the poise of our team, the resiliency, to come back and go down the field and execute to win,” Stoops said.
Landry was superb down the stretch — he completed nine of 10 passes for 135 yards in the final two drives over the last seven minutes, both of which came with OU trailing.
“It’s just a confidence booster,” Landry said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever doubted myself in those situations. Those situations, it’s just a matter of executing football. It’s not any different than any other situation.”
We’ve actually seen it before. Landry did something similar last November at Baylor. Down 38-24 in the fourth quarter, Landry took OU on two touchdown drives. The Sooners went 75 yards in seven plays, scoring with 5:55 left. On that drive, Landry completed three of four passes for 46 yards. Then the Sooners went 77 yards in 10 plays, scoring with 0:51 left. On that drive, Landry completed six of seven for 53 yards.
But two major differences between Waco and West Virginia. At Baylor, both OU scoring drives ended with Blake Bell runs out of the Belldozer. And after the comeback, Robert Griffin III weaved his magic and threw a 34-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds left for a 45-38 victory.
Landry’s other chances at late comebacks came his rookie season of 2009 — a 14-13 loss to Brigham Young, the game in which he replaced the injured Sam Bradford; a 10-3 loss at Nebraska, in which Landry threw five interceptions, the key one with 21/2 minutes left; and 16-13 to Texas, in which the Longhorns intercepted a Landry pass with four minutes to go.
I found three other late comeback performances in the Stoops era. Alas, two of them ended in defeat:
* 1999 Independence Bowl: Josh Heupel delivered a touchdown drive to give OU a late 25-24 lead, but Ole Miss drove to a game-winning field goal.
* 2002 Alabama: Nate Hybl, via shovel passes to Renaldo Works, rallied OU from a 27-23 deficit. The Sooners added a defensive touchdown for a 37-27 victory.
* 2006 Fiesta Bowl: Boise State beat OU 43-42 in one of the wildest games ever, but long before the overtime theatrics, Paul Thompson engineered a comeback. The Sooners trailed 28-10 in the third quarter and 28-17 in the fourth and 28-20 in the final minutes. But Thompson drove OU 77 yards in six plays and threw a five-yard TD pass to Quentin Chaney, then a 2-point conversion pass to Juaquin Iglesias, for a 28-28 tie with 1:25 left. You remember the rest.
So three times in the Stoops era, an OU quarterback has produced a clutch scoring drive in the waning minutes, only to see victory snatched away. That didn’t happen Saturday night.
“At the time, I was more just wanting to win the game,” Landry said of his thoughts on how OU won at West Virginia. “Now, looking back, I’m glad we were put in that position and glad we got to be able to come through. It was so much fun. Really thankful for what God has done through me at this university.”