STILLWATER — Demarco Jones made a potential game-saving play just five minutes into Saturday’s game.
During Oklahoma State’s 41-31 victory over Texas Tech, the Red Raiders started quickly, setting the pace with an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Then they nearly got the ball right back with a surprise onside kick that Tech was able to recover, but Jones calling for a fair catch saved the possession.
A 6-foot redshirt junior from Booker T. Washington, Jones was able to call a fair catch because the Tech kicker didn’t kick the ball into the ground, instead flopping it straight into the air. It’s easy to say Tech was in the wrong for not putting the ball on the ground, but that was a split-second decision Jones had to make to throw his hand in the air. His ability to not panic should be commended.
Here is the NCAA rule on the matter: “During a free kick, a player of the receiving team in position to receive the ball has the same kick-catch and fair-catch protection whether the ball is kicked directly off the tee or is immediately driven to the ground, strikes the ground once and goes into the air in the manner of the ball kicked directly off the tee.”
Mike Gundy credited Jones’ special teams experience to him being able to stay calm and make that play. Jones hasn’t played a ton of defense before this season, playing just 15 snaps, according to PFF. But he has played a ton of special teams, 337 snaps before this season.
“Pretty smart, huh?” Gundy said. “So, if I’m here and they’re flopping it over here and I’m running like this and I [wave a hand above my head], they cannot catch the ball. So, we’ve practiced it and talked about it. We were fortunate enough we had a guy that plays a ton of special teams for a long time and he’s mature and made a good play.”
It’s not his first game-changing play, either. Jones recovered Oklahoma’s muffed punt in Bedlam last season, setting up OSU’s game-winning touchdown.
Jones was one of a few OSU corners who left Saturday’s game with injury.