Kansas Defeats McNeese State in Season Opener, 42-24
Sept. 3, 2011
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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Three different Jayhawks rushed for more than 60 yards as part of a ground game that accumulated 301 yards and three touchdowns, while sophomore quarterback Jordan Webb added three touchdown passes to lead Kansas football to a 42-24 victory against McNeese State in its 2011 season opener at Memorial Stadium Saturday night.
Kansas (1-0) moved to 68-47-7 in season openers with an 87-31-4 mark in the Jayhawks’ first home game of the year.
Sophomore running back James Sims led the rushing attack with 104 yards and a touchdown. Freshman running back Tony Pierson added 73 yards and a touchdown in his Jayhawk debut, including a run of 47 yards in the first half. Fellow rookie Darrian Miller ran for 63 yards in his first collegiate game. Webb added 27 yards and a touchdown on the ground. It marked the first time Kansas had a team rushing total of more than 300 yards since the Jayhawks ran for 334 yards against Northern Colorado in 2009.
Webb attempted 10 passes in the game, completing seven, for a total of 146 yards. All three of Webb’s touchdown completions were at least 25 yards long, including passes of 56 and 48 yards to freshman wide receiver JaCorey Shepherd. Shepherd finished the game with 107 yards on three receptions to become the first freshman to eclipse the 100-yard receiving mark in a game since Termaine Fulton racked up 138 yards against Texas in 1997.
Defensively, senior linebacker Steven Johnson led the team with a career-high 15 tackles, including nine solo tackles and two for a loss. Junior Toben Opurum, sophomore Keba Agostino and freshman Pat Lewandowski all recorded sacks at defensive end for a combined loss of 14 yards. Opurum joined Johnson with double-digit tackles, registering a career-high 11, three for a loss.
Kansas’ first scoring drive of the season went for 84 yards on eight plays, highlighted by a career-long rush of 30 yards by Sims and a 25-yard touchdown pass from Webb to Patterson with 5:30 remaining in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, KU scored on each of its first two possessions. The first scoring drive went for eight plays and 73 yards, sparked by a 47-yard run by Pierson and capped by a one-yard run by Sims. The second drive lasted 12 plays and covered 67 yards. Pierson completed the drive with a 13-yard break to the end zone to give the Jayhawks a 21-3 lead at halftime.
Kansas scored on its first possession following the intermission with a 56-yard touchdown pass from Webb to Shepherd. The long connection wrapped up a six-play, 61-yard drive in only one minute and 40 seconds. Webb’s completion marked the longest touchdown for the Jayhawks since Nov. 28, 2009, when Todd Reesing hit Dezmon Briscoe for a 74-yard touchdown pass against Missouri. Webb and Shepherd struck again on a 48-yard completion with 6:30 remaining in the game to give the Jayhawks 42-24 lead that would stand for the remainder of the game.
Kansas is in action again, Saturday, Sept. 10, against Northern Illinois at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT and will broadcast on Fox College Sports.