• Loading KStateSports Tweets...
    1 second ago

Jones: POP, POP, POP-POP-POP, POP

By Mark Janssen
 
 
The game was more than four decades ago, but there are moments of that Nov. 9, 1968, day that Dave Jones remembers with red and white vividness.
 
"It was Nebraska's Homecoming and one of their traditions was to hold all of those red and white balloons and then let them loose after the first Big Red touchdown," said Jones, Kansas State's standout wide receiver from 1966-68. "At the end of the game, I remember hearing their fans pop all those balloons. It was 'pop, pop, pop, pop-pop-pop, pop, pop-pop' all over the stadium. We had given them no reason to celebrate."
 
The day belonged to Vince Gibson's Kansas State Wildcats over Bob Devaney's Cornhuskers, 12-0. It was the first conference shutout by the Cats since 1955. It was only the second time in the Devaney era that an NU team had been blanked.
 
"I remember reading Devaney's book and he had one page devoted to that game," said Jones. "He called it his lowest moment in his life. He said there were probably 200 'For Sale' signs in his front yard when he got home."
 
The victory was K-State's first over Nebraska since 1959. After that fall Saturday of 1968, it took the Wildcats until 1998 to defeat the Big Red again, and not until 2003 to top them in a game played in Lincoln.
 
"I remember it like yesterday," said the 63-year-old Jones. "The first play of the game (Lynn) Dickey calls an out-and-up. I remember making my cut in front of the NU bench and hearing Devaney scream, 'Get back, get back, get back.' I was five steps down the field by then, caught the pass and got down to the 5- or 10-yard line."
 
On the next snap, Dickey threw a flare pass to Mack Herron and K-State had all the points they would need on the day to win. Max Arreguin would add insurance points with two fourth-quarter field goals for K-State's win by a dozen.
 
Defensively, K-State was nasty, allowing the Huskers just 146 total yards, and a measly 78 on the ground.
 
As Jones said of the game, "Kansas State had done something good for a change."
 
"Coach Devaney said it was the game that changed the Nebraska philosophy," said Jones. "It was after that game that they started recruiting faster athletes from the south."
 
It was also after that season that Tom Osborne was promoted to offensive coordinator, who installed the I-Formation. In 1970 and 1971 NU would win national titles.
 
In Jones' sophomore and junior seasons, K-State had won just one game. By Wildcat standards, this third win of the 1968 season was the most for any team in Purple and White since 1958.
 
Jones, with the help of Dickey and Herron, were in the infancy of changing the K-State landscape.
 
"Lynn probably had the best arm I've seen. He was razor sharp with his passing ... just precise with a lot of speed on the ball. It would knock you on the ground if you weren't ready," said Jones, who earned All-Big 8 honors in 1967 and 1968. "He would come in the huddle and you had an immediate belief.
 
"Mack was as fast as anyone I've ever seen. He could cut so fast. He could cut east and west as fast as he could run north and south," said Jones. "He was that rare triple threat in that he could run, receive and return."
 
And Jones could catch any ball in his vicinity. An 11th-round draft selection by the Cleveland Browns in the 1969 draft, he enjoyed a three-year NFL career with six receptions for 99 yards, plus returning nine punts for 63 yards.
 
One might consider those as modest numbers, unless one goes back to Jones' gridiron beginning when he played six-man football as a freshman in a wee-bit of a community called Kanorado, located not much more than a deep route from the Colorado line on I-70 just west of Goodland.
 
"The next year the principal cancelled our season because we only had eight eligible kids to play," said Jones. "My dad immediately took me the 15 miles into Goodland and rented a house so I could have legal residency. My sophomore year I stayed in that house by myself. My mom would come into the city a couple times a week to make sure I was eating and was OK, so it wasn't like they left me as a castaway. Then the next two years I lived with my 95-year-old grandmother."
 
Jones had a dream of playing for Kansas, but K-State was the only school to offer a full scholarship.
 
"That made up my dad's mind where I was going to go," laughed Jones. "He liked that scholarship part of it."
 
Jones' first two K-State years were under head coach Doug Weaver with the Wildcats going 0-19-1 before the arrival of Gibson. To this day, Jones says he remembers that first team meeting.
 
"He walked in from the back of the room like a general," Jones reflected. "His first words were that line about looking to your right, and to your left, and him saying, 'Two of the three of you will not be on this team in two years.' That made you swallow pretty hard.
 
"Then he said that from the films he had watched there were only three players he had any confidence in: Lankas (Danny), Davis (Cornelius) and Jones. I think that's the first time I took a breath in the entire meeting," said Jones.
 
Now 42 years later, Jones still ranks No. 6 in all-time receptions (127) and receiving yardage (1,904) by a Wildcat.
 
Today, Jones lives just outside of Cleveland, where, along with his two sons, he owns J.I.T. Packaging, which includes multiple outlets in Ohio, plus businesses in Buffalo, N.Y., and Atlanta, Ga.
 
 
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at mjanssen7@cox.net, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at klannou@kstatesports.com.