Reesing Powers No. 25 Jayhawks Past Northern Colorado 49-3

LAWRENCE, Kan. – To get the Jayhawks’ 2009 season off on the right foot, senior quarterback Todd Reesing took matters into his own hands – and feet.

Before a record crowd of 52,530, Reesing rushed for KU’s first two scores and threw a pair of second quarter touchdown passes to give the 25th-ranked Jayhawks a 49-3 triumph over visiting Northern Colorado in the season-opener at Kivisto Field at Memorial Stadium Saturday evening.

The Jayhawks win their season-opener for the sixth-straight season, while the Bears fall to 0-1.

The senior quarterback accounted for 287 of KU’s 543 yards in the game, carrying the ball 13 times for 79 yards and throwing for 208.

On the Jayhawks’ first play from scrimmage, Reesing hit fellow senior Kerry Meier on a slant pattern for 30 yards, which set the tone for the KU offense. Reesing capped the drive with a one-yard scamper around the left end in which he juked his way through a group of would-be tacklers to give KU a 7-0 lead.

The senior quarterback really turned things on in the second quarter. Reesing capped another long drive with a 13-yard run early in the quarter and then threw touchdown passes to Jake Sharp on a shovel pass and Tertavi Ingram to give Kansas a 28-0 lead heading into the halftime break.

Reesing led Kansas on one more scoring drive, a seven-play, 64-yard march, before giving way to backup quarterback Kale Pick early in the fourth quarter. Sharp capped this drive with a one-yard plunge, his second touchdown of the night.

The senior tailback finished the game with 123 yards on 21 carries. Meier led the Kansas receiving corps with five catches for 115 yards, including a 71-yard catch and run to set up KU’s first touchdown of the fourth quarter.

Late in the game, KU freshman tailback Toben Opurum got into the act, scoring a pair of touchdowns and gaining 79 yards on eight carries in his Jayhawk debut.

Kansas ran for 328 yards, compared to just 74 on the ground for Northern Colorado.

As impressive as the Jayhawk offense was, the defense might have been better. Kansas held the Bears to 246 yards of total offense, including 95 in the first half. Northern Colorado penetrated the Jayhawk 20-yardline just twice in the contest, with both drives ending with field goal tries.

Senior cornerback Justin Thornton led the defense with nine total tackles, while junior linebacker Drew Dudley added seven tackles including the only sack by either team.

KU will travel to UTEP for its second game of the season next Saturday. The contest is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff, with CBS College Sports providing national television coverage.

Game Notes
— KU has won six straight home openers.
— KU has won 18 consecutive non-conference home games.
— KU has won 19 straight home games played at night.
— The crowd of 52,530 set a new single-game record for home attendance, surpassing the crowd of 52, 230 that attended last season’s 52-21 victory against Kansas State. KU has played in front of four-straight sellout crowds at home. The game marked the 25th home crowd of at least 50,000 at Memorial Stadium.
— KU has had 10 straight home games with 48,000 in attendance, including seven sellout crowds of at least 50,000.
— With a 49-3 victory against Northern Colorado, KU has won its last six home openers by an average margin of 29.5 points, including 37 points over the past four years. The margin of 46 points was the most in the last six seasons.
— With 46 wins, Mark Mangino is one victory away from tying Glen Mason for second on the KU victory list.
— Six Jayhawks made their first career starts. On offense: LT Tanner Hawkinson, LG Brad Thorson and RG Sal Capra. On defense: DE Max Onyegbule, DT Patrick Dorsey and CBAnthony Davis.
— Kansas allowed three points against Northern Colorado, the fewest it’s allowed since shutting out Louisiana Tech on Sept. 6, 2008.
— QB Todd Reesing now owns a 21-6 record as a starter after KU’s 49-3 victory against Northern Colorado.
— Reesing’s two rushing touchdowns gives him 11 for his career. This was the first game in his career that Reesing recorded multiple rushing touchdowns in a game.
— Reesing’s 79 rushing yards were his third most in a single game behind the 90 and 84 yards he recorded against Colorado in 2006 and 2007.
— Reesing has thrown a touchdown pass in 19 consecutive games.
— With 13 completions against Northern Colorado, Reesing (632) passed Jason White of Oklahoma (626) to occupy the 10th spot on the Big 12 career completions list. Reesing needs (23) to pass Josh Heupel of Oklahoma (654) for ninth.
— Kerry Meier has caught at least two passes in 22 consecutive games.
— Meier’s 71-yard reception to end the third quarter was the longest of his career, surpassing his previous best of 68 yards against Sam Houston State.
— With 115 yards receiving against Northern Colorado, Meier (6) tied two others for third on the KU career 100-yard receiving games list.
— RB Jake Sharp’s 122 rushing yards against Northern Colorado moved him into the 11th spot on the KU career rushing yardage list and were his third most as Jayhawk (181 vs KSU in 2008, 127 vs Toledo in 2007).
— With 122 rushing yards against Northern Colorado, Sharp (7) moved into a tie for seventh with five others on the KU career 100-yard rushing games list.
— Sharp’s 12 points moved him into ninth place on the KU career points list with 144 points.
— S Darrell Stuckey made his 31st career and consecutive start.
— RB Toben Opurum rushed for two touchdowns in his first game as a Jayhawk. Opurum finished with 79 yards on eight carries.
–The last time a true freshman rushed for two touchdowns in one game was in 2006 whenKerry Meier rushed for two touchdowns against Northwestern State.
— WR Tertavian Ingram caught his first career touchdown pass in the second quarter. His two catches against Northern Colorado were one short of his previous career total of three.
— DE Jake Laptad recorded his first career two-sack game against Northern Colorado. He had two games of with 1.5 sacks in 2008.
— Laptad also tied his career high in tackles with six. His also had six tackles against Texas in 2008.
— LB Drew Dudley recorded his first career sack in the fourth quarter.
— CB Chris Harris recorded his first career forced fumble and DT Steven Foster recorded his first career fumble recovery on Northern Colorado’s first drive.

Kansas Quotes
Kansas Head Coach Mark Mangino
On the impressive number of rushing yards (328):
“Northern Colorado came in here and I think they were expecting us to put up big numbers in the passing game. They played some zone, and well, we can run the ball. In order to do that and in order to be effective, we’ll do what we’ve got to do. We’ll go through our tailback and we can do it through our quarterback. I’m pleased with the way they did what they had to do given the circumstances.”

On KU’s defensive pressure on the quarterback:
“Without looking at tape, I thought we got some good pressure. I think we played the run well, although we left some gaps free at times. That’s related to having some different kids out there and getting everyone on the same page, but I feel good about it. I think we’ve got a lot of work to do. The competition is going to pick up considerably here in the next week. Overall, it was a good first night out.”

On KU playing without four suspended players:
“(Desmon) Briscoe and (Jamal) Greene’s suspensions were related to the spring. They knew when they were suspended in the spring that part of the stipulation would be not playing in the first game. Jeff Wheeler and Raimond Pendleton’s issues were different, but they violated a team policy and I didn’t have them play tonight.”
Freshman Quarterback Kale Pick:
On the young players:
“Toben (Operum) is a great running back, he had a great night tonight, with two touchdowns – and Bradley McDougal also had some great plays. Giving the freshmen a grade: I’d give them an A, both of them made great plays, and Toben had two touchdowns.”

On his first career game:
“It was exciting, I haven’t been out on the field in a while. For only playing two games my senior year, and being redshirted my freshman year, it was an exciting moment.”

On pre-game nerves:
“Actually (Jeremiah) Hatch asked me right before the series, `are you nervous at all?’ I was like, `not really.’ I was just looking forward to getting out there and playing.”

Sophomore Center Tanner Hawkinson:
On communication with the other offensive linemen:
“We all communicated very well – that was a big emphasis going into the game. Coach Redding was just telling us about doing our assignments and we’ll be fine.”

On “bulldozing” the defensive line and tallying up a lot of rushing yards:
“Yeah, it definitely is (really fun), it’s really encouraging, looking to see how many rushing yards you have in the game. Looking at the different sets they had, we knew coming in to the game that they’d come in with three down linemen. We had to create some seams and get to the linebacker, and get them blocked.”

Junior Defensive End Jake Laptad:
On starting the season and being able to hit someone in a different colored uniform: “It was a lot of fun getting out there and finally getting to hit someone else for a change.

On the overall performance of the defensive line:
“We were just going out there, and we’ve got to take it one game at a time, to be able to get better and practice every day. I felt like we took a step forward today.

Junior Safety Chris Harris
On the pass interference woes:
“They are problems that we can work out. Those plays were just mental mistakes that we can fix, so it was not too big of a deal.”

On his position change:
“I am way more comfortable, the reason that I love this position is because I am just free to play.”

Freshman Running Back Toben Opurum
On his first college game:
“It was an opportunity that I have been waiting for, and when I got that opportunity I took advantage of it. It felt really good.”

On his two touchdowns:
“It was not something that I expected, but when that opportunity comes around you definitely have to take advantage of it.”

On his nerves:
“I actually was not nervous, I kept my calm tonight. It was more excitement. I have been thinking about this game for a very long time.”

Senior Wide Receiver Kerry Meier
On the game:
“We got off to a good start on the opening play. After that we kept rolling and I think that we played pretty well.”

On the blocking of the receivers:
“Blocking is something that we have worked on and stressed throughout camp and the offseason, becoming physical blockers and throwing up physical blocks. We came out tonight and were in the right position. Coach made the right play calls so it made it easy on us.”

Northern Colorado Quotes
Northern Colorado Head Coach Scott Downing
General thoughts of the game:
“I was disappointed in the final score, but I thought that we played a lot of guys. After going down 28-0, we came back in the second half and we won the third quarter 3-0. I think there are a lot of things we can obviously improve upon. We don’t want to take anything away from Kansas because they’re the 25th-ranked team in the country. They are a very good football team. I told our team that we’ll go back home, watch the tape and learn from it. We had to play some young guys, but that’s the nature of the game. We were able to play some freshmen and some redshirts. They got in the game and we got them some game time, so we’ll see nothing but better things in the future.”

On Northern Colorado’s offensive play:
“Our offense started to click in the second half. We showed a lot of life. Our receivers ran pretty well with the ball after the catch. We still have some things to sharpen up in our running attack, but Andre Harris had some runs that were pretty good. John Burnley also came out and made a couple of good runs. I’m excited about the potential of the offense and as we continue to work, they’ll be fine.”

On Kansas’ play:
“(Todd) Reesing is an awfully good player. We’re like most people that they played last year. We just don’t have an answer to a quarterback that can sit back there and throw. Then when he takes off, he can either run it or keep it alive. He’s back there running around like a greased pig and you can’t get him down. It’s obvious on film and when you’re watching him live. He’s an important factor, obviously, but I take nothing away from guys likeKerry Meier. He did a great job and Jake Sharp did some good things as well.”

Northern Colorado Quarterback Bryan Waggener
On what got the game out of hand:
“We struggled in the red zone; we had some penalties that killed us in the red zone. The missed field goal hurt a little bit and Todd Reesing took over the game today and showed why he’s one of the better quarterbacks in the nation.”

On Todd Reesing:
“I feel like he’s just a playmaker out there. He’s just real scrappy and knows how to get it done and finds ways to make plays all the time.”

On not getting any touchdowns:
“We always expect to score. We expect to play with them and be in the game, we come out here trying to win every game and it was a disappointment not to get in the end zone, but they’re a Top 25 team for a reason.”

Northern Colorado Safety Max Hewitt
On the game as a whole:
“Obviously no one wants to get beat, but the score doesn’t represent how the game went. We’re going to watch the film and obviously take some negatives away from this and have to correct them, but I know we’re going to find a lot of positives out here.”

On staying close with Kansas:
“We’ve got to eliminate some of the big plays and I felt like we played with them. They’re a top 25 team for a reason; they’re a real good team. Todd Reesing deserves a lot of credit. He made a lot of big plays out there. But I do feel like we went toe-to-toe with them for a while. They got two scores late to kind of run up the score and that’s something we’re going to address and fix it and try to beat San Diego next week.”