After starting the season with an impressive victory over Rhode Island, the Ohio Bobcats brought KU football back to earth on Saturday, as the Jayhawks fell in a 37-21 loss.
The Jayhawks looked to win back-to-back games for the first time since 2011 and went into the game against the Bobcats as a three-point favorite. However, Ohio, coming off of a heartbreaking triple-overtime loss to Texas State, did not cooperate with KU’s plans to start the year 2-0.
By the time the first quarter was over, it looked like Ohio was the superior team. Less than three minutes into the game, the Bobcats had taken an early 6-0 advantage, highlighted by a Greg Windham 53-yard run, then capped off with an 11-yard rush to the endzone by Papi White. During KU’s second possession of the game, deep in their own territory, costly playcalling from David Beaty allowed for the Bobcats to trap KU for a safety, taking a 8-0 lead. Ohio would end up scoring another touchdown, making the score 15-0, before scoring another seven in the opening seconds of the next quarter. It wasn’t until the second quarter that the Jayhawk defense began slowing down Ohio. After the touchdown in the opening seconds of the second quarter, the Bobcats settled for two field goals. The only offense for Kansas in the half came via special teams, a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by LaQuvionte Gonzalez. KU had just 21 total yards in the first half, compared to Ohio’s 359. Ohio led 28-7 at the half after a Gonzalez fumble on a punt return led to a Bobcat field goal.
The third quarter sparked some change for KU, as Montell Cozart started with a quick 74-yard touchdown pass to Steven Sims Jr. to bring the team’s deficit to only two scores. Ohio kicked another field goal, and on the next possession, Cozart hit Sims Jr. for another touchdown to cut the Bobcat lead to 10, bringing the score to 31-21. Other than another field goal for Ohio, that would be all of the scoring in the game.
There were definitely moments that you could look back on and say, “If that hadn’t happened, the game would be different.” Of course, that’s to be expected with a team who hasn’t won back-to-back games in five years, so growing pains will be obvious and frequent this season. LaQuvionte Gonzalez, who had an exciting kickoff return to end the first half, had two muffed punts on the day, which were certainly helpful for the Bobcats to take a 37-21 victory over Kansas.
Today’s defeat didn’t come without some positives. The Jayhawk defense held the opponents to just nine points in the second half, and it appears that the quarterback controversy is all but solved. Montell Cozart spent most of the day at QB, throwing for 198 yards, 177 of which came in the final half of the game. Ryan Willis did get a few snaps after Cozart left the game with an apparent shoulder injury, and Willis went 1-5 with an interception. The passing game was a highlight in the second half, but Kansas struggled mightily on the ground, rushing for just 31 yards on the day.
Positives aside, there are no moral victories in college football. A loss is a loss, and this game certainly was one. There were questionable coaching decisions and plays that should have been made, but there are definitely things to look forward to this season. Kansas will travel to Memphis next week, where they will kickoff at 11:00 against Riley Ferguson and the Tigers.
6:35 p.m. edit: Updates on Montell Cozart:
Cozart had an x-ray on his left shoulder. He said he felt good enough to return if need be.
— Scott Chasen (@SChasenCJ) September 10, 2016
Cozart says he hurt same left shoulder that ended season last year. He says X-rays came back fine; he should play next week.
— Jesse Newell (@jessenewell) September 10, 2016