On a perfect night in Lawrence, Kansas, the infamous past of KU football was put aside for one night as the Jayhawks rolled to a 55-6 win over the Rhode Island Rams.
The win ends the 665 day-drought of winless Kansas football. The wheat was waved a total of eight times in the form of eight touchdowns, and they featured with different Jayhawks scoring. Rhode Island (0-1) was completely outmatched by a dominant Jayhawks team. Kansas (1-0) opens the season on a positive note. Here’s how David Beaty won his first game:
After much deliberation on to who would start under center for the Jayhawks, head coach David Beaty decided to have QB Montell Cozart begin on the first Jayhawk possession. Kansas made quick moves, pushing the ball up to the 41-yard line from a pair of strong Cozart runs. Rhode Island halted the Jayhawks’ pace, forcing the Jayhawks to punt on fourth down. Although, on the punt, Rhode Island’s Honoree Cooper muffed the return, and a flock of Jayhawks pounced on the ball like it was one-thousand dollars. Kansas was set up to score in the Rams’ red zone. After a few runs up the gut, the ‘Hawks suddenly found themselves inside the 10. With the ball on the four, Montell Cozart connected with tight end Ben Johnson wide open in the end zone, putting the Jayhawks on the board first, with the score of 7-0.
On the following drive, the Rams’ Wesley McKoy fumbled the football looking for space between Jayhawk defenders. KU forced its second turnover of the game. With excellent field position, Beaty opted to put sophomore quarterback Ryan Willis in the game for a drive. Willis made his move quickly, connecting with Bobby Hartzog for a 28-yard completion. Just moments after the big catch, Willis found LaQuvionte Gonzalez in the corner of the end zone, making a circus-like catch to lift the Jayhawks to a 13-0 lead after a missed extra-point. Kansas had capitalized on a pair of Rhode Island turnovers, putting itself in a perfect position with just under five minutes left in the first quarter.
The game would go to a quick standstill, as both sides punted on their next respective drives. Rhode Island failed to get anything on their next three possessions. Montell Cozart was back under center, leading the Jayhawks deep into Rams territory. Cozart connected with Steven Sims Jr. for the third KU touchdown of the day, making the score 20-0 after a successful PAT.
Rhode Island showed no hesitation on their preceding drive, scoring on a 23-yard pass to cut into the Jayhawks lead. The Rams missed their PAT, leaving Kansas with a two-possession advantage. Cozart returned to the field and from the first play on, he pushed the Jayhawks all the way down to the Rhode Island one with a sharp drive. On the first play in the red zone, Ke’aun Kinner pushed the ball into the end zone, giving the Jayhawks a 27-6 lead.
With the game slipping away from them, the Rams needed a promising drive, but it was quickly halted when Wesley McKoy was picked off by Kansas’ Bazie Bates. For the third time in the first half, Rhode Island had handed the football back to the Jayhawks. By this point, the KU offense was clicking on all cylinders. Rushes from Ke’aun Kinner and Ryan Willis propelled the Jayhawks into the red zone once more. On fourth-and one, Kansas was caught with too many men on the field, prompting a field goal on 4th and 6. But Matthew Wyman failed the attempt, and the teams went into the locker room with a 27-6 KU lead. With one half in the books, Kansas had nearly doubled Rhode Island’s total yardage, 282 to 156.
On the first drive of the second half, Rhode Island made just 11 yards of headway before they were forced to punt on fourth down. On the Jayhawks first drive of the second half, Montell Cozart and the KU offense once again charged down the field. Kansas managed to pick up its fourth touchdown pass of the game on a 20-yard bullet to Tyler Patrick. The Jayhawks were making the scoreboard work hard, leading 34-6 just eight minutes into the second half.
After the Rams punted once more, Cozart led KU towards the end zone, but he was picked off by Justin Hogan. This was Kansas’ only turnover of the day. After KU got the ball back, Willis was inserted at quarterback, and he connected with Steven Sims Jr.. The sophomore receiver from Texas turned on the jets and took it all the way to the house for a 71-yard touchdown. For the first time in what seems like a decade, Kansas was man-handling a football team. Did the basketball team put on a football uniform?
KU scored two more touchdowns before the night was over: Ke’aun Kinner has a 69-yard touchdown burst, and third-string QB Carter Stanley hit Chase Harrell for a 13-yard score that extended Kansas’ huge lead to 55-6.
Kansas won its first game in what felt like a million years. As a lifelong Jayhawk fan, this felt real good.
Hey, Kansas has more wins than Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas State!
Cozart: 18/25, 199 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT.
Willis: 7/9, 144 yards, 2 TD.
Kinner: 7 rush, 69 yards, 1 TD.
Sims Jr. : 5 rec, 124 yards, 2 TD.
Gonzalez: 7 rec, 78 yards, 1 TD.
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