Onyegbule Scores Defensive Touchdown

Sept. 19, 2009

After earning Big 12 co-defensive player of the week honors last week at UTEP, senior defensive end Maxwell Onyegbule followed up with another strong performance at home against Duke on Saturday.

To begin the second half, Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis threw a pass right into coverage and into the hands of Onyegbule, which he ran back for a 48-yard touchdown to make it a 27-7 game. Onyegbule recorded his second career interception and first career touchdown with the interception.

“The defensive end is supposed to drop, the quarterback didn’t see me, and he threw it right to me,” Onyegbule said. “I just ran for my life into the end zone.”

Mangino noted Onyegbule’s interception and also his progress on the defensive line after the first three games.

“Max made a nice play, got underneath the ball in the zone and had a good stride taking it in,” said KU Head Coach Mark Mangino. “He just keeps getting better as we go.”

In recent years, the defensive linemen have had their fair share of interceptions. Onyegbule’s interception in the third quarter marked KU’s eighth by a defensive lineman in the past three years.

Onyegbule turned around to look for Blue Devils on his tail when heading for the end zone, but no one was even close.

“I just took a glimpse back to see where everybody was at and there wasn’t anybody behind me,” Onyegbule said.

Mangino was surprised by the defensive end’s ability to pull in the pass and then run as well as he did. He even joked about seeing Onyegbule at tight end in the future.

“For a big guy he runs pretty well, and I didn’t realize he had such great hands,” Mangino said. “It might tempt me to put him at tight end some day.”

The last time a KU defensive end returned an interception for a touchdown was former defensive end Charlton Keith in 2005 in the Fort Worth Bowl. It was also the first interception return for a touchdown by any KU defensive player since former cornerback Aqib Talib in the 2008 Orange Bowl.

“It’s wonderful for a defensive lineman, or anybody on defense who never touches the ball just to have the rock in your hand and do something with it,” Onyegbule said.

In addition to the interception, Onyegbule added three tackles, one tackle for loss, and a sack for an eight-yard loss.