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November 18, 2012

Jones' check to Stills saves the day for Sooners

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. -- Oklahoma wide receiver Kenny Stills split out to the left side of the field, leaned in, and raised his right hand toward West Virginia cornerback Ishmael Banks.

'You and me', Stills motioned as he pointed back and forth from himself to Banks.

It was 4th-and-3 from the West Virginia 5-yard line. It was the Sooners last gasp with just 26 seconds remaining in the game. The Sooners were trailing 49-44.



And there was Stills, seemingly taunting his opponent. It didn't seem like the time or the place.

But there was a method to the madness for Stills' brash maneuver.

"I was just running a clear out," explained Stills. "We were working the three receiver side. I was just messing with him."

What Stills meant was that the ball was headed to the other side of the field. Stills was pulling a bit of a caper but sucking in Banks. He wanted to pull Banks into the corner, clearing out the middle of the field for those three receivers on the other side of the field.

Then Landry Jones looked right at Stills, and changed the play. That challenge Stills just issued, was officially on. It was indeed one-on-one. Stills vs. Banks.

Jones was throwing right to him.

"I just thought he could beat him across his face and I thought the corner was a little soft on him and so I signaled the slant out to him and had the window and kind of put it on him," explained Jones of the audible.

While Stills was out there playing his game of cat and mouse, Jones sprung the trap before Stills could.

"Landry makes a check and then I'm not thinking about that anymore," said Stills. "When Landry called it I thought, 'Here we go. Let's make a play.' It just happened so fast, it's crazy."

Stills ran the quick slant pattern Jones had orchestrated from behind center. Landry delivered the ball, Stills caught it right at the goal line.

Oklahoma finally took the lead 50-49, with just 24 seconds remaining in the game.

"For Landry to do what he does on the fourth down, with everything on the line, to check in the one-on-one on the backside, it just speaks to what kind of competitor he is," said co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel.

"He understands the game. It wasn't an option, like I want you to check it, it was him seeing the leverage and checking it. It's as good a play and it's my proudest moment as a coach. Not just because of the type of situation but a guy preparing it, understanding it, trusting it and then making the plays. That's as good as I've seen."

Oklahoma's offense did what it was expected to do against a West Virginia defense ranked 110th in the country in total defense.

That it took the final 26 seconds before Jones figured it out, is fine. Against Kansas State and against Notre Dame, this offense couldn't make the play when it counted.

This offense just needed to prove it could make that play.

It finally did.

"Down the stretch, it's as good a performance as I've been a part of and I've been here for a long time," said Heupel.


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