Dynamic Duo Leads Kansas Past South Dakota State

Sept. 3, 2012

Pierson and Cox led the Jayhawks' ground attack in win over SDSU.By Tomas Hoppough, Kansas Communications

Prior to the first game of the season, Kansas Head Coach Charlie Weis said he wanted to accomplish one thing: “To win the football game.”

Mission accomplished.

The Jayhawks opened up the Weis era with a 31-17 victory over South Dakota State University. One of the biggest reasons for the win was the play of the backfield tandem of sophomore Tony Pierson and junior Taylor Cox.

Both men demonstrated how deadly the Jayhawks running game can be. Pierson had 20 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns, marking the first 100-yard rushing game of his career. Cox had 16 carries for 121 yards and one touchdown for his debut.

They became the first Kansas duo to record 100-plus yards rushing in a game since 2007.

The pair proved to be a handful for the SDSU defense, and showed the perfect balance of speed and strength.

“I think that we’re deep in talent at running back,” Weis said. “They were both productive in the game, allowing us to really control the field possession.”

The running game Pierson and Cox produced helped the overall flow of the offense and allowed the Jayhawks to create scoring opportunities.

“All the running backs in conjunction with the offensive line really carried the game,” said senior quarterback Dayne Crist, “They really got us through some lulls throughout the course of the game.”

Despite a 99-yard touchdown run from SDSU running back Zach Zenner in the first quarter, the Jayhawks were able to respond just before the second quarter. Pierson dove in for a three-yard touchdown, with a well-executed lead block by senior Toben Opurum, to tie the game before the second quarter.

Pierson’s second touchdown of the game came early in the third quarter when he shook the defenders and cut hard to the right leaving his pursuers behind him for a 47-yard touchdown.

When asked about Piersons touchdown run, Crist responded with, “He never ceases to amaze me.”

Cox showed threatening athleticism and determination and it was only a matter of time before he scored. With five minutes remaining and KU clinging to a seven-point lead, Cox broke a 39-yard run to put him over 100 yards for the day. He capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown to seal the game.

“Going in today, me and Taylor (Cox) wanted to come in and play with confidence,” said Pierson, “I wanted to play hard and win the game.”

Although Crist may feel that the running game carried the team, Pierson and Cox feel that none of this would have been accomplished without a certain group: the linemen.

“I have to give credit to the offensive line and tight ends,” said Cox, “I felt that they kind of made it easy for me. The offensive line did a tremendous job.”

Overall the Jayhawks look like they have improved from last season and showed amazing potential. Crist went 17-for-36 with a touchdown pass to senior Mike Ragone. Senior Kale Pick led in receiving with a career high of 81 yards. The Jayhawk defense recorded four interceptions with two of them coming from senior Bradley McDougald.

After this performance, Jayhawk fans can look forward to seeing Pierson and Cox giving defenses trouble and producing scoring opportunities against their next opponent, Rice, on Sept. 8.

“(Cox and Pierson) both run incredibly hard,” said Crist, “We expect that out of them each week. They did a great job tonight.”