Gold Rush: Throwback Memory
This article was originally published in the August 2012 issue of Gold Rush.
By Jay Reddick, Gold Rush
One of the most famous passes in Wake Forest football history wasn't thrown by a quarterback. Flanker Bobby Jones' strike to wide receiver Todd Dixon gave the Deacons the lead for good in the 1992 Independence Bowl against Oregon.
The play went for 61 yards, and even 20 years later, Jones feels like he can remember every inch of it. And he should - it capped WFU's first bowl victory in 47 seasons and let Jones go out a winner in his final college game.
"It was a special play...a game-changer," Jones said. "To be able to throw a touchdown pass on one of the last times I ever touched the ball, I'll never forget it."
Today, Jones is a national manager of catastrophe services with State Farm Insurance in Oklahoma City. But he welcomed the chance to talk recently about his old football career and that special senior year, now 20 years in the past.
Jones caught 88 passes during his career at Wake Forest, not bad for someone who was typically the third receiving option. His early teams didn't have much success, though, as he won eight games in his first three years in Winston-Salem.
The 1992 team started sluggish as well, with a 1-3 record. But on a trip to Nashville, Tenn., in early October, the Deacons learned how to win, humiliating Vanderbilt 40-6 to spark a six-game winning streak.
Coach Bill Dooley didn't resort to a whole lot of trickery in his '92 gameplan, but by the fifth victory in that streak, at Duke on Nov. 7, he decided to go deep into the playbook.
"I played a little bit of quarterback in high school," Jones said. "We tried this play in practice, the end-around with me throwing to Todd, and everybody said, 'Wow, Bobby, you can really throw the ball!' I didn't know if coach Dooley would let us do it in a game or not, but he did at Duke. It worked, too. Todd was wide open."
That set up Oregon. Down early, Wake Forest had clawed back to within four early in the fourth quarter when Dooley decided to go deep again for one final push.
"I had run a go route on a pass play the previous snap," Jones said. "So I was pretty tired, but luckily there was a TV timeout for me to get my breath."
The play can easily be found on YouTube: Jones throws a strike to Dixon, about 55 yards in the air. Dixon beats his one defender and sails into the end zone. The play went for 61 yards in total, the Deacons' longest play from scrimmage of the season.
"To this day, I have the best pass percentage in school history," Jones said. "Two-for-two, two touchdowns."
Jones went into the insurance business just after he graduated from Wake Forest. Today, with State Farm, he goes wherever disaster strikes to help victims pick up the pieces after losing their homes. For example, he said he spent a lot of time in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005.
"The running joke is that if you want to know where I am, turn on The Weather Channel," Jones said.
Jones met his fiancee at work, but not in the way you might think. Ayo Jordan worked in a different department at State Farm, but the two had never met until they both were sent to cover the aftermath of a hailstorm in Missouri.
He has two children from a previous marriage. His oldest, Akilah Jones, is a college sophomore, and her college choice wasn't the most popular in the household.
"She's a Tar Heel, unfortunately," Jones said. The two have a running bet that the loser of the Wake Forest-UNC football game has to wear the T-shirt of the winning team for a day and put a picture on their Facebook page. Jones wore baby blue last year, but he's hoping for a turnaround this fall.
"I've been really proud of the way this team has played lately," Jones said of the Deacons.
The 1992 team is planning a reunion for Varsity Weekend this season. Jones won't be there, but he plans to come to BB&T Field at least once, and he said he'll catch up with plenty of his old teammates at other times.
"We were a close-knit group then, and we're a close-knit group now," Jones said. "We stay in contact."
BOBBY JONES PROFILE