Landry Jones has parlayed his symbolic role as stoic-faced backup to last year's Heisman Trophy winner into the honorary title of Oklahoma Sooners' quarterback.
Jones, when the game got tight, hit all 10 of his passes in the fourth quarter and his final 14 overall to lead No. 22 Oklahoma to a hard-fought 42-30 victory over Kansas State.
The victory extended Oklahoma's home winning streak to a program-best and current nation-best 28 games.
“We stepped up, and in the second half, we just got things rolling again like we did (the previous week) at Kansas. We just have to keep it going and get better every week," Jones said after the contest.
Facing a 1st-and-45 on the last play of the third quarter and ahead by a slim 28-23, Jones and his offense converted the improbable deficit. On the 15-play drive that ate 8:12 and gave OU a temporary 35-23 cushion, Jones was 8-8 to four different receivers, among them WRs Ryan Broyles and DeJuan Miller.
Broyles, in particular, made a scintillating catch and run to convert a 3rd-and-24. The drive was capped by a six-yard swing pass to RB DeMarco Murray.
Kansas State's Brandon Banks returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards to pull Kansas State within five points again, 35-30. On the Halloween Homecoming night, the speedy Banks spooked Oklahoma for 351 yards (156 receiving, 195 returning kicks).
Jones and his teammates got moving again. Jones was 6-6 for 77 yards on the drive that was again completed by Murray, this time on a three-yard power run with 6:27 left. Oklahoma led, 42-30.
The Wildcats, now forced into a passing game that is their second choice of attack, couldn't rally. Quinton Carter intercepted Kansas State's last pass for the game's only turnover, and OU then ran out the clock.
"The young guy has done an awesome job," Stoops said of Jones. "He is just really poised and trusts the young guys around him. He throws a good ball and stayed in there and did a nice job with it."
Miller, for his part, had a career-best game. He snatched 9 passes for 94 yards and one TD.
“I felt like I was getting my chance to show what I can do," Miller said. "I’m more talented. I don’t want to sound too cocky, but that’s just the inner confidence that I have in myself that I know I can play at a high level. When my number is called on third down, those catches are the biggest catches for me. I felt real good today. I felt in a rhythm, and we really came out with a good victory.”
Oklahoma's chances for a Big 12 South title took a carving this All Hallows Eve. Oklahoma State failed to put on its game mask and got decapitated by Texas, 41-14. Nevertheless, it was, for Oklahoma, a night for looking to the future as much as winning in the present.
"He (Jones) will get better, too," Stoops said. "There are still some spots out there that he'll see, "Geez, I could have gone a few different places.'"
His improvement, and the need for more of it, wasn't lost on Jones.
“Every game you just have to keep getting better. And I’m getting better. I’m seeing the stuff easier out on the field and seeing the coverages more.”
Jones was 26-37 for 294 yards and four TDs. He wasn't sacked and didn't throw an interception.
“Landry is growing each week," Murray said of his young QB. "He’s a great player and a great competitor. He knows the job is his now.”
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