MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When all else failed, Landry Jones saved Oklahoma.
The Sooners eeked out a 50-49 win Saturday on Mountaineer Field — and kept their conference-title and BCS bowl dreams alive — because of their much-maligned senior quarterback, who polished off the finest game of his career with the finest moment, which came when the Sooners desperately needed a hero and couldn’t seem to find one.
Mike Stoops, hailed as Oklahoma’s savior when he returned as defensive coordinator? His defense was torched to the tune of 778 total yards.
Blake Bell, Jones’ heir apparent and a fan favorite? He was stuffed on third down, inside the Mountaineers’ 5-yard line with 26 seconds left and OU down 5 points.
So Oklahoma coaches turned to their Mr. Reliable, who re-entered the game on fourth down, audibled to change Kenny Stills’ route from a fade to a slant and threw a dead-on, 4-yard touchdown pass to give the Sooners the last points they’d need.
“Landry Jones, to lead those drives at the end of the game, such great precision, throwing strikes ... the receivers making tough, competitive catches,” said coach Bob Stoops. “He made great throws at important times. And the receivers, I’m so pleased. What’s helping now is Landry is confident with all of them.”
Jones finished Saturday with a school-record 554 yards and tied a career-high with six touchdown passes. He also became the third quarterback in major college football history to throw for at least 3,000 yards in four straight seasons.
But most importantly, he salvaged for Oklahoma a game that could’ve ended as an even bigger embarrassment than last year’s debacle at Baylor.
Making it all the more impressive is how much Oklahoma — and Jones — had struggled for much of the second half.
The Sooners scored on their first second-half drive, but then were forced to punt twice and had one drive end when Jones was intercepted inside West Virginia territory.
When Oklahoma began that final drive Saturday, West Virginia had just retaken the lead with a three-play, 92-yard drive. The home crowd was electric. The Mountaineer offense was exceeding even the highest expectations set for them during the preseason.
Brennan Clay returned the kickoff 46 yards, and Jones did the rest. He completed all four of his pass attempts on the drive.
“They came in here and overcame some adversity,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said after the game.
“They ended up making one more play than we did, and that was the difference in this game.”
As coach Bob Stoops concluded his postgame session with reporters, Jones was entering the media room.
Stoops patted his four-year starter on the back and said, “Good job, big guy.”