Notre Dame's Jarron Jones dedicates his interception to his mother, No. 944
SOUTH BEND — Lakiescha Jones wears No. 944.
Her jersey is custom-made, dark blue with the numbers glued on in bedazzled silver rhinestones. On the back, a string of scrunched letters fits snugly across the shoulders.
“Mom of Ja. Jones.”
The “Ja.” serves a dual purpose, as does the unique number.
94 for Jarron. 44 for Jamir.
Lakiescha’s sons share a football team, a locker room and a campus, as Jarron returns for his fifth and final season and Jamir embarks on his freshman campaign. On home football weekends, they all share an apartment, too. Lakiescha and Matt Jones, her husband, rented an apartment in South Bend in June and split the lease with Jarron.
Their hometown is technically Rochester, N.Y.
But not on days like this.
“It’s awesome having her around,” Jarron said of his mother following Notre Dame’s 39-10 victory over Nevada. “It lets us be who we are. Especially with my little brother being here, it’s just an awesome season for me. It’s very well deserved for her because she sacrificed so much to get us to where we are today. This is really for her.”
Jones’ blocked extra point against Texas was for Lakiescha.
So was Saturday’s second quarter interception.
When Nevada quarterback Tyler Stewart took the snap at his 11-yard line, he backpedaled and waited as his offensive line set up a screen. Jarron, meanwhile, diagnosed it and disrupted it, stepping in front of running back James Butler and smothering the football in his massive paws.
“I think I’ve got great hands,” the 6-foot-6, 315-pound nose tackle said with a growing grin. “These hands aren’t big for nothing. I know I can grab a ball.”
He grabbed it, and he took off, rumbling for five yards before being dragged down at the 4-yard line.
Lakiescha, meanwhile, tried to process what she’d seen.
“I saw it happen and I went bonkers,” Lakiescha said. “It was just a blessing.”
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was less surprised.
“When we go against Jarron Jones, we do not run any screens,” Kelly said. “He sniffs out screens really well. He knows when a lineman is setting for a screen, is setting for a pass. He's got really good instincts. You do not want to mess with that guy with a middle screen.
“He just has a knack and a sense, like he does on blocking extra points. We never run screens when Jones is in.”
But which Jones? A freshman linebacker, Jamir also got into the game on Saturday, entering in the second half and contributing to a bounce-back victory. Nos. 94 and 44 wore gold helmets on the field, and No. 944 showcased a shiny gold hat and bedazzled blue jersey in the bleachers.
“You couldn’t even dream of anything like this,” Lakiescha said, standing next to her husband and daughter while she waited for her boys to exit the locker room. “It’s ecstasy, basically.”
It’s ecstasy. It’s family. And it’s not over just yet.
Five more times this season, Lakiescha and Matthew Jones get to descend on South Bend for a football weekend, cooking meals and spending time with their sons as one college career ends and the other finds its footing. In this moment, the torn MCL that kept Jarron out for the 2015 regular season seems almost predetermined.
They were all meant to be here. Right now. Together.
“We play for her and my dad,” Jarron said. “They’ve done so much for us growing up, and they had to sacrifice themselves for us. My mom lost all her best friends because she had to work so much and go to our games. She never really had a social life for herself.
“For her to sit here and enjoy this, it’s awesome.”