Kansas football has been on the losing end for quite some time. Looking at this game coming into Saturday, it looked like it was just going to be another one of those weeks. You hope the Jayhawks would at least competed, but you didn’t expect much else. But, as it turns out, Kansas had so much more in store, herding the Longhorns and stealing a 24-21 overtime victory.
Kansas hadn’t won a conference game or an FBS game in two years, but tonight was different. Here’s how the 2-9 Jayhawks victory played out.
It took Texas 11 seconds to score a touchdown. Shane Buechele found Jacorey Warrick for a 75-yard score on the first play of the game. Already, the Jayhawks were seeing the game slip away. Responding to a score has been an issue for Kansas. The Jayhawks’ first drive was a three-and-out, and the rest of their offensive attacks were stopped short of anything progressive.
The most impressive aspect of the first half was the Jayhawk defense. After allowing the breakaway touchdown on the first play, the Jayhawks stopped the Longhorns completely, even forcing a Texas fumble to snag good field position. But of course, the Kansas offense had to spoil the situation as they were unable to turn the excellent field position into points. On the next drive, Fish Smithson intercepted a pass. But once again, the Jayhawks couldn’t turn it into points.
Seeing that the offense couldn’t score, it seemed like Kansas would need an even bigger lift from its defense. That’s exactly what Brandon Stewart was thinking, as he snatched a Buechele pass and took it 55 yards into the blue-covered end zone. It wouldn’t end there, though. The Jayhawk football team had suddenly gotten a job at IHOP, or that’s what it looked like as the defense dished a pancake to Texas back D’Onta Foreman. Foreman lost the football, and Dorrance Armstrong Jr scooped it up to give the Jayhawk offense the football once more. Carter Stanley found Steven Sims on a 33-yard completion, and it set up a Jayhawk field goal to make the score 10-7, KU. There would be no more points in the first half, and the Jayhawks found themselves with a three point lead at halftime.
Four takeaways on four straight possessions. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Texas came out of the halftime locker room playing better. A Carter Stanley pass was tipped and it fell with the Longhorns, and Texas was able to score a touchdown moments later on a D’Onta Foreman scamper. Kansas’ offense struggled in the first half, and it continued in the second. Texas was able to pick things up, but it was stopped on third down inside the Jayhawk red zone. The Longhorns missed a 31-yard field goal, and the ball was back with the Jayhawks.
Laquvionte Gonzalez fumbled earlier in this game, but unlike that first fumble, his second cost the Jayhawks drive and gave Texas perfect field position with a four-point lead. The Longhorns were able to capitalize again on the Jayhawk turnover. D’Onta Foreman put the ball across the goal line, and it gave Texas a 21-10 lead.
It was inevitable that the Jayhawk defense would grow tired. With a lack of depth on the ‘Hawks roster, and the defense playing a huge chunk of the quarter because of the offensive struggles, it was only a matter of when it would happen. But hey, don’t count out the Jayhawk offense too fast. A quick offensive possession with heavy yardage found Khalil Herbert past the pylon for a Jayhawk touchdown. It was a 10-play, 80-yard drive, and a successful two-point conversion put the Jayhawks down by only a field goal with eight minutes left.
The Kansas defense had been terrific all day, but a few more stops would determine if it was good enough. A fifth turnover was forced late in the fourth quarter, but the Jayhawks couldn’t do anything with it. Texas was ultimately stopped on downs trying to run out the clock, giving Kansas one last chance, down 21-18 with one minute left. Stanley drove his team right down the field on a drive highlighted by a 21-yard QB scramble and a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty. Suddenly, KU had a chance to tie the game at the very end of regulation.
Senior kicker Matthew Wyman was money from 36 yards out. Kansas had successfully taken the ball down the field, with assistance from a Texas targeting penalty. The game was tied. Overtime.
Texas got the ball first in the overtime period. It took two plays for Kansas to force a turnover – its sixth of the day. The Jayhawks were in winning position, starting on the Texas 25. Kansas took it to Texas, pounding the football all the way inside the ten.
A few plays later, Wyman came on for a chipshot, 25-yard game winner, and he drilled it. Kansas had slayed the Longhorns for the first time in 76 years!
On a brisk and chilly November night in Lawrence, a 23-game FBS losing streak was put to bed. They did it! The Jayhawks won an actual football game! They hadn’t beaten Texas since World War II, and they hadn’t won a football game since Perry Ellis’ fourth birthday. Take the goalposts to Potter Lake! The Jayhawks have won a football game!
Next: the season concludes next week in Manhattan, when the Jayhawks match up with the Kansas State Wildcats.