After a historic win against the Texas Longhorns last week, the Jayhawks had high(er) expectations than they’ve had in quite awhile. They’ve been riding the Carter Stanley wave for three weeks now, and he’s shown much more potential than Ryan Willis and Montell Cozart did in the entire first half of the season. Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, Carter Stanley’s efforts weren’t enough to propel the Jayhawks to their third victory of the season.
The offense got off to an okay start, as they had a convincing drive, capped off by 34-yard Matthew Wyman field goal. From there, things snowballed, and KU never could regain control. They had a small glimmer of hope after blocking Kansas State’s first PAT, keeping the game within three points. With most of the second quarter to go, Carter Stanley threw a costly pick-six to put the Wildcats up by ten. On the very next drive, Stanley threw another interception, this time leading to a 31-yard rushing TD by Alex Barnes that put KSU up by 17. The scoring affairs were halted for the rest of the half.
Not long after the second half started, KSU was back to its scoring ways against Kansas, as allowed another touchdown from Winston Dimel to extend KSU’s lead to 27-3. It was pretty much over at that point.
It’s definitely a disappointing way to end the season for the Jayhawks, who at 2-10, had another disappointing year in the record department. The strides made in the second year of the David Beaty era were definitely apparent, particularly at the end of the season. The Jayhawks didn’t give up at any point in the year, consistently playing with energy and heart regardless of the score. That was apparent in this game, as despite the 27-3 score, Kansas clawed its way back into it.
Stanley did lead two scoring drives late in the game. He fired a 95-yard bomb to LaQuvionte Gonzalez for his first touchdown pass, and after another K-State rushing score, he led his team back down the field. That drive concluded with a touchdown pass to fullback Michael Zunica.
Down 34-16, the Jayhawks chose the perfect time for a surprise onside kick. They recovered near midfield and suddenly found themselves with an opportunity to get back into the game. But as they have all year, penalties stalled the drive. When the defense gave Kansas another opportunity, Stanley led the team into K-State territory after a 36-yard rush. KU wound up with a field goal, a 44-yard boot from Wyman, to cut the deficit to 34-19.
There was a glimmer of hope as, with less than four minutes to go in the game, KU’s defense forced a fumble to take the ball at about the 34-yard line, but gave the ball right back to the Wildcats to end the game, giving coach Bill Snyder his 200th win of his long, long, long, long, long, long, loooooooooooooooooong career.
It was also Kansas State’s eighth straight victory over the Jayhawks in the historic “Sunflower Showdown” series.
Stanley went just 1-3 in his four starts as Kansas’ quarterback, but there will be palpable buzz going into next year with him at the controls as a sophomore in 2017. The Jayhawks finally appear to have a quarterback capable of throwing the ball downfield with both strength and accuracy, which isn’t something they’ve had in many years. Stanley threw for over 300 yards in today’s loss, and has shown great promise for the future.
KU finished their season, though only marginally better than last season, with two wins, and one of those came against a Big 12 opponent. There will probably never be much to say about a 2-win football team, but there are a lot of signs pointing to maybe, possibly beating more than one Big 12 opponent next season. All things considered, Carter Stanley did an excellent job stepping up this season, and with time to get acclimated to the offense, next season should result in more than two wins.