Jayhawks Rock, Chalk K-State, 39-20
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Senior Jon Cornish rushed for a career-high 201 yards and two touchdowns, and the University of Kansas’ defense forced a season-high six turnovers as the Jayhawks downed in-state rival Kansas State, 39-20, in front of a Memorial Stadium-record 51,821 fans on Saturday.
The win moves KU to 6-5 overall and 3-4 in the Big 12, while the Wildcats fall to 7-5 and 4-4 in conference play. This marks the second straight season that the Jayhawks are eligible to go to a bowl game.
The Jayhawks used Cornish’s running and an opportune defense to clinch its third straight win. KU freshman Anthony Webb intercepted two passes and returned one for a touchdown, while junior defensive lineman Russell Brorsen recovered two KSU fumbles.
On the offensive side, Cornish, playing in his final home game in the Crimson and Blue, carried 25 times en route to his record-breaking performance. He became the first Jayhawk to go over 200 yards rushing since Reggie Duncan gained 227 yards against Texas Tech in 2001.
The senior tailback scored his seventh touchdown of the season late in the first half to give the Jayhawks a 10-3 lead. The score was set up by KSU’s first turnover, an Aqib Talib interception and 23-yard return. From 24-yard line, Cornish carried twice, reaching paydirt on a 13-yard run up the middle.
Junior kicker Scott Webb added to the lead in the final minute of the quarter with a career-long 49-yard field goal. Webb’s kick was set up by Brorsen’s recovery of a Josh Freeman fumble at midfield.
Leon Patten then brought the Wildcats within three early in the second quarter with a 44-yard run along the far sideline.
Kansas took a 20-10 lead into the half when Brorson recovered another Freeman fumble, this time in the end zone. After K-State intercepted Kerry Meier deep in Wildcat territory, junior James McClinton sacked Freeman at the goal line, forcing the fumble and Brorson recovered for KU’s first fumble recovery for a touchdown since 2004.
The KU defense sacked Freeman five times and intercepted the KSU signal caller three times in the game.
KU took advantage of more K-State miscues in the fourth quarter. With the Wildcats trailing by 10 and driving, Webb intercepted a screen pass at midfield and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown. It was Webb’s second interception of the game and the second defensive touchdown for the Jayhawks Saturday.
KSU answered on the ensuing kickoff as James Johnson returned it 85 yards for the score. It marked the first time that KU has allowed an opponent to return a kickoff for a touchdown since 1997 when KSU’s Gerald Neasman returned a kick 99 yards.
Fittingly, the Jayhawks defense sealed the game late in the fourth quarter. With the Wildcats driving again, KU’s Jeff Wheeler forced Freeman’s third fumble of the game, and senior Wayne Wilder returned the ball 43 yards to the KSU 12.
The turnover set up Cornish’s second touchdown run of the day, a 12-yard misdirection play off right tackle. It marked the second time this season that Cornish had more than one rushing touchdown in a game.
For the game, Meier completed 11-of-23 passes for 108 yards, while sophomore wide receiver Dexton Fields caught seven balls for 72 yards.
KU outgained the Wildcats 249-118 on the ground.
Brorson collected 10 tackles, including three tackles for a loss, two sacks and two fumble recoveries. McClinton also chipped in five tackles for a loss and two sacks.
The Jayhawks will travel to Columbia, Mo. to battle the rival Tigers next Saturday at 11 a.m. on ABC television.