TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The game tied, the Sooners' No. 1 national ranking hanging in the balance, Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones lofted a high arching pass to the end zone.OU sophomore receiver Kenny Stills beat Florida State star cornerback Greg Reid. But the ball was underthrown.
Stills, who sat out the season opener, serving a one-game suspension, outmuscled Reid for the ball.
The 37-yard touchdown reception gave the Sooners the lead midway through the fourth quarter, the highlight play in OU's 23-13 win in front of a raucous, tomahawk-chopping, jammed packed Doak Campbell Stadium.
Some projected an offensive shootout but the two defenses dominated. Stills was the one offensive star, hauling in seven catches for 125 yards and the go-ahead score.
“It's huge to have Kenny back,” said OU center Ben Habern. “He's a big-time threat. He complements Ryan (Broyles) very well. If they start double-covering Ryan, it's great Landry can go to Kenny or the other guys. That was a huge catch in the end zone.”
Stills runs a 4.4 in the 40. He's the fastest player on OU's roster. The go-ahead TD catch represented the area he's improved since last season when he set freshmen receiving records.
“It was really well covered,” said OU coach Bob Stoops. “Kenny put his hands up and it stuck. I had a great view of it. It was a great ball. I guess it was a little underthrown now that I think about it. I thought it was going to be easy at first. But, hey, Kenny made Landry look good.”
Stills made a concentrated effort to hit the weights in the off-season. All those hours pumping iron paid huge dividends in the Sooners' biggest non-conference win in the Stoops era.
“I really wanted to gain some weight and gain some strength,” Stills said. “I feel I had a little more confidence going up to get the ball. Before the drive started Ryan told me to go out there and be physical. A little boost like that from Ryan really helped me.”
Co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said Stills relishes the spotlight.
“He loves to play on a stage like this,” Norvell said. “He really answered tonight. He made some incredible plays.
“On that touchdown play, he missed a block on the play before. We kind of came back to a fake off that and threw the deep ball. He responded and executed very well.”
Stills said last week he owned his teammates after missing the opener due to a DUI arrest last winter.
Was the game-winning TD enough of a payback?
“In a sense I guess,” Stills said, smiling. “But there are a lot more games left. There's still plenty more for me to do... This was a big win for us but we're already getting ready to move on to Missouri.”
After the touchdown catch, Stills flashed the numbers 1 and 2 with his hands, a tribute to linebacker Austin Box, who died last May. Box wore number 12.
“We play every game for Austin,” Stills said. “We're always talking about him. We miss him. We know every play he would be playing his hardest. Immediately after I scored I thought about him.”