Wyman’s Late Field Goal Downs Bulldogs, 13-10
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Down to the final play of the game with two seconds remaining on the clock, freshman kicker Matthew Wyman lofted a 52-yard field goal from the left hash mark to give the Jayhawks a 13-10 victory over Louisiana Tech Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
Wyman’s kick gave Kansas (2-1) its first lead of the contest when it mattered most and gave the Jayhawks their first walk-off win since Scott Webb kicked a field goal to push KU past Iowa State in 2005. The kick was also the first 50-yard make for KU since 2009 and moved the Jayhawks to 3-1 in meetings with Louisiana Tech (1-3, 0-1 CUSA).
Wyman’s kick capped 10 unanswered points by the Jayhawks following a fourth-quarter fumble by the Bulldogs on the one-yard line that proved to be the momentum changer of the game. It was the first of two Louisiana Tech fumbles inside the five in the fourth quarter.
On the ensuing Kansas possession, KU drove 80 yards on eight plays that ended with Jake Heaps found Jimmay Mundine for a 22-yard touchdown connection to tie the game at 10
LA Tech strung together an 80-yard drive of its own late in the fourth quarter, but a fumble by Kenneth Dixon gave KU the ball back on its own 5-yard line with 1:33 left in the game. The Jayhawks then drove 60 yards to set-up the game-winning field goal for Wyman.
Kansas recorded 396 yards of total offense, 117 rushing and 279 in the air, compared to the 443 yards recorded by LA Tech.
Heaps completed a career-high 28 passes for 279 yards and a touchdown. Tony Pierson was the Jayhawks leading receiver with nine catches for 82 yards, while Brandon Bourbon added seven for 47 yards.
On defense, Victor Simmons and Ben Heeney each recorded a game-high 10 tackles, while Dexter McDonald added two more pass breakups to his nation-leading mark in the passes defended column of six. The tackles were a career high for Simmons, who also recorded two tackles for loss.
KU opened the game with a 43-yard drive, thanks to Pierson combining for 33 with three rushes and a completion. However, the Jayhawk offense failed to convert on a short fourth and three from the LA Tech 33, turning the ball over on downs.
The Kansas defense had no trouble finding a rhythm on the ensuing Bulldog possession, as the squad allowed just one yard and forced a LA Tech punt. The unit continued to shine on LA Tech’s next possession after Heeney recorded his first career interception for the team’s fourth on the season.
Heaps threw an interception of his own on the next drive, leading to a 57-yard drive by the Bulldogs that resulted in a touchdown from Ryan Higgins to Hunter Lee, putting LA Tech on top 7-0 as the first quarter came to a close.
After back-to-back missed field goals, one by KU’s Wyman and the other by LA Tech’s Kyle Fischer, the Jayhawks drove the ball 58 yards late in the second quarter to score their first points of the game on a make by Wyman. The Bulldogs answered back with another 60-yard drive, however, another missed field goal by Fischer ended the half with a score of 7-3, in favor of LA Tech.
Fischer gave Louisiana Tech a 10-3 lead early in the third quarter with a 39-yard field goal, but that was it for the scoring in the third frame as both teams jockeyed for field position. Kansas punter Trevor Pardula booted a 78-yard punt – eighth-longest in school history – and added a 65-yard kick in the third quarter, part of a single-game, school-record effort of 57.6 yards per punt.
Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon, a freshman All-American a year ago, rushed for a game-high 129 yards and Bulldog freshman quarterback Ryan Higgins completed 35-of-55 passes for 289 yards. DJ Banks tied Pierson for the game-high with 82 yards, while hauling in 13 passes.
The Jayhawks return to the gridiron in two weeks for homecoming weekend, Saturday, Oct. 5, and open Big 12 play against Texas Tech.
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Kansas leads the series 3-1 after four meetings and have won three straight against Louisiana Tech. Head coach Charlie Weis improved to 1-0 against Louisiana Tech.
KANSAS CAPTAINS: Jake Heaps(QB), Ben Heeney (LB), James Sims (RB), Keon Stowers (DE)
DEBUTS AT KU: None.
FIRST TIME STARTERS AT KU: Offense – Dylan Admire (OL), Rodriguez Coleman (WR), Riley Spencer (RT)
*LA Tech won the toss and defered until the second half. KU received and defended the north end zone.
*For the ninth-straight game, Kansas’ opponent scored first and the Jayhawks trailed at the end of the first quarter.
*Kansas is yet to score a touchdown or field goal in the first quarter.
*LA Tech’s field goal in the third quarter was the first points allowed by the KU defense in the third quarter this season.
*It was the first time since 2005 that the KU won a game on the final play of the game. The last time was against Iowa State after a Scott Webb, 34-yard field goal gave the Jayhawks a 24-21 win in overtime.
*Heaps’ 28 completions against LA Tech was more than he completed in the first two games combined and set a new single-game best for the junior. His previous best was 27 completions at BYU, which was set in 2010 against Utah State.
*In the third quarter, Rodriguez Coleman recorded his first catch as a Jayhawk, a 12-yard pass from Jake Heaps. He finished the game with two catches for 30 yards in his first career start.
*James Sims rushed for 78 yards against the Bulldogs and moved into fourth place on the KU rushing charts with 2,763 yards. Sims passed Clark Green (2,754) and now looks to become the only the fourth Jayhawk to reach 3,000 yards in his career.
*Jimmay Mundine’s touchdown in the fourth quarter was his first of the season and fourth of his career. The 22-yard touchdown pass from Heaps tied the game with a little less than 10 minutes to play in the game.
*Cornerback Dexter McDonald entered the game tied for the nation’s lead in passes defended with six total. He recorded two broken up passes bringing his 2013 total to eight passes defended seven pass break-ups and one interception.
*Junior nickelback Victor Simmons recorded his first career sack on LA Tech’s second drive of the game – a nine-yard loss that forced the Bulldogs to punt the ball. He tied for the team lead with 10 tackles, which was a new career-high. His previous personal best was eight tackles in the season opener against South Dakota. Simmons led the team with 2.0 tackles-for-loss.
*Junior Ben Heeney recorded his first career interception against the Bulldogs in the first quarter. It was KU’s fourth interception of the season and first by the linebacker position group, with the defensive line and secondary also recording interceptions early in the season. Heeney finished tied for the team lead with 10 tackles, reaching double figures for the seventh time in his career.
*Senior defensive lineman Kevin Young recorded his first sack of the year in the third quarter. It was a tackle for a loss of 12 yards, which was the largest loss on a stop against the Bulldogs.
*Junior defensive back JaCorey Shepherd tallied a career-high eight tackles. Three of his eight stops were solo, while the other five were assisted. His previous best was four tackles in a game.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
*Redshirt freshman kicker Matthew Wyman’s game-winning field goal, a 52-yarder, was the longest of his career. He has converted 3-of-5 attempts on the year. Wyman’s kick was the first 50+ field goal for the Jayhawks since Jacob Branstetter hit a 57-yard try against Oklahoma in 2009.
*Junior punter/kickoff specialist Trevor Pardula set a new school record for punting average in a game after averaging 57.6 yards on five punts. The previous high was 52.5 yards per punt by Ted Rohde on Oct. 2, 1954 versus Colorado. Additionally, three of Pardula’s five punts were downed inside the 20.
*Pardula broke his previous career-long punt twice against LA Tech. First, he recorded a career-long 78-yard punt in the third quarter which tied for eighth longest in school history and was the longest Jayhawk boot since Rich Reith pinned K-State deep after a 78-yard punt Oct. 18, 1986. Later in the third quarter, he added a 65 yard kick. Pardula’s previous best was 59-yarder against Rice.
QuotesKANSAS HEAD COACH CHARLIE WEISOpening Statement:”The couple of turnovers late gave us a chance. We bounced back and tied it. Then we went for a play that we practice almost every day in practice and Wyman goes on to win it with his field goal.”
On choosing Wyman to kick the last field goal over Pardula:”This year from that distance Wyman has been 80 percent in practice. Of course that’s 80 percent with a hard rush on you. Now I’m a play the odds guy, we don’t practice Trevor (Pardula) very often at field goals. And when I saw that the kick was going to be 52 yards I felt it was within Wyman’s range.”
On two late offensive drives:”We were grasping some because they were handling us on the inside and we couldn’t get anything going. Then we started to get some outside runs going and they expanded their defense to stop our outside run. That ended up forcing us to do a mix and match of plays. Down the stretch (Rodriguez) Coleman made a few big catches and next thing you know we flipped field positions and we ended up having our chance.”
On Jimmay Mundine’s touchdown:”It was good for Jimmay and it was good for his confidence. I was happy for our entire team but I was especially happy for him.”
MATTHEW WYMAN, RFR, KOn how he prepares for his kicks:”I visualize before every kick. My dad always told me to visualize and picture it going through the uprights.”
On his journey being a student last year to game winning kicker:” It’s a lot to take in, but I always have had confidence in myself that one day I’d be kicking out there.”
JAMES SIMS, SR, HBOn watching the game winning field goal:”It was a great experience. We practice those situations all the time and Wyman stepped up big for us. “
On how the team stayed together late in the game:”We just have the mentality of if our offense is down the defense will have our back, and if the defense is down our offense will have their back. It’s a team effort and we have each other’s backs through everything. “
On the value of this game going forward for KU’s confidence:”It helps us a lot just building our confidence that when we’re in a slump we can get through anything.”
JAKE HEAPS, JR, QB On the last drive of the game:”It was incredible that we were able to battle through adversity the whole game. Our offense kept battling and our defense kept battling and I think it shows our team’s character. It shows the strength of our team and having chemistry with one another.”
On his thoughts during the time out to ice Wyman:”My stomach was turning and I was very nervous just waiting for something to happen and felt helpless not being on the field. This is a huge win for our football team. It may not have been the prettiest win, but it was a huge win for our locker room.”
TREVOR PARDULA, JR, P/KOn his 78 yard punt: “It felt good, it felt really good. When you hit a good one, especially those (good) ones when you get a hold of it, it doesn’t feel like you’re even kicking anything, it just pops off so quick, it definitely feels good.”
On the emotion after the game:”I knew (Matthew) Wyman was going to make that right when he went out there so I buckled my helmet up because I knew we were about to celebrate. It’s a good feeling.”
BEN HEENEY, JR, LINEBACKEROn Matthew Wyman making the game winning field goal:”I knew he was going to make it. He makes those in practice every day. It’s rare for him to miss, we practice for that every day. Coach Weis will say if Matt (Wyman) makes it, we don’t have to run, if he misses it we have to run. He’s (Wyman) been in the pressure situations before. I knew he was going to make it.”
On the two Louisiana Tech Fumbles inside the five yard line:”They lost the ball and we recovered it. I think Michael Reynolds on that last one down on the 10 yard line, I think Michael Reynolds went and stripped it out while the guy was falling down. The ball hit nearly every player, I touched it, Jake Love touched it. It was bouncing around on the field everywhere and then I finally saw Keon (Stowers) fall on, so I knew we had the ball.”
KEON STOWERS, JR, DLOn his fumble recovery after the second Louisiana Tech fumble:”It was a pressure call, Michael Reynolds came off the edge and made the tackle and forced the fumble. The ball bounced around and went to their player, then to our player, then back to their player, he [LA. Tech player] kind of had it in his hand, and then I ripped it away. I put both hands on it and I wasn’t letting anyone get it away from me. I even had guys on my team trying to rip at the ball, I was like ‘nope, my ball.'”
On the win:”Great, great, great effort and fighting until the end of the game, that’s it. There wasn’t a magic wand, it was a great team effort obviously. The offense started off a little slow, but the defense was still there. We held them to 10 points, we bended a little bit, but we still got them. We came up with some big plays like my fumble (recovery), and Tony’s (Pierson) big catch, and definitely (Matthew) Wyman’s big kick. It was a whole team effort, we came together as a team.”
LOUISIANA TECH HEAD COACH SKIP HOLTZ
“I was really proud of our team today. They really competed today. Ryan Higgins, for a freshman quarterback, getting first collegiate start on the road against a Big 12 opponent, he competed his tail off. I thought the offensive line did a much better job than a week ago. Our offensive productivity was much better. We’re moving the ball better, as far as yardage. But when you’re looking at production as far as points – we turned the ball over twice inside the five-yard line going in and we missed two field goals. That’s a good way to lose a football game on the road. I was proud of the way Kenneth Dixon and Ryan Higgins competed; it’s just unfortunate that they were two of the ones to make mistakes in the red zone going in. I thought Kenneth ran incredibly hard; it’s nice to have him back. He definitely makes a difference on offense on your football team. I was proud of what the defense did today. Unfortunately, their (Kansas) scores came after turnovers in the red zone. We weren’t able to get ‘the’ stop, but I thought our defense competed really hard today. Kansas’ kickers were the difference in this game. He (Matthew Wyman) makes a 52 (yard field goal) and we missed two inside of that. They averaged 57.5 yards a punt; when you start talking about 57 (yard punts) compared to 39 (yard punts), you’re talking about 20 yards of field position every time you have to punt the ball. I thought their punter and their kicker were the difference in this football game. It was a hard-fought game. I applaud Kansas for a home game win. I thought they really competed and they were able to get it done at the end.”
On Louisiana Tech’s fumble on the goal line:
“I saw it was in the far corner; they kept showing the replay on the Jumbotron over and over. I really thought his foot was on the line when the ball came out. I saw a very similar play in an event last night, when Boise State played Fresno State, only his foot was just over the line. Unfortunately, he (Dixon) just reached the ball out and the ball came out of his hands. No one feels worse in that locker room right now than Kenneth Dixon. But I don’t know that anyone competed any harder or stepped up any more than those two kids, Kenneth Dixon and Ryan Higgins.”
On what he said to Higgins and Dixon postgame:
“I told Ryan I was really proud of the way he competed. Just what I said – I couldn’t ask more from him as a freshman quarterback, stepping in. I told him I wasn’t asking him to make a great play, I was asking him to make a routine play. Put the ball in your outside arm and protect it. It’s unfortunate to lose a game, you have to learn from a mistake like that. He’s a competitor. He’s out on the field, running and trying to get it in (for a score). It just wasn’t a very smart play – that ball was way too important to do that with it. Same thing with Kenneth – he’s got his head in a towel and he’s crying his eyes out. No one feels worse than him. We talked to the seniors in the locker room about how they’re going out; that it’s a long season and we’re going to keep competing. No one feels worse than he does. I told him I love the effort, the way you run and make people tackle you, but in a situation like that, you’ve got to keep two hands on the football.”
RYAN HIGGINS, FR., QBOn Louisiana Tech’s effort:”I thought it was incredible. We worked extremely hard, (it was a) tremendous effort. We just kept thinking, we’ve got them. It’s just a couple plays that hurt us and really we’re going to fix everything on film that we can and get better.”
On his first collegiate start:”It’s a pretty intense feeling. After the first kickoff, everything kind of zones out; you don’t worry about anything else, you just kind of focus in. It’s really tough and exciting. (I) wish we could have handled some things better, but I thought overall we did very well.”
On his performance:”I felt we kind of started to pick up the rhythm. We really started to move the ball after the first couple of drives. I know I struggled a little bit at the beginning with some jitters, but the team was behind me and everybody was really supportive and we began to pick it up and move the ball really well.”
DANIEL COBB, SR., LBOn Kansas’ final drive:”We knew we had to get back out there, a sudden change. It was 1:30 left and we couldn’t let them score. Unfortunately, we let them get into field goal position and that was that.”
On Louisiana Tech’s defense:”I feel like we did great. We’re improving every week. Through three quarters, they had three points. I think that we played great as a unit.”
On stopping Kansas’ offense:”It’s scheme, coaching and we’ve got great coaches. We’ve got a bunch of guys who are believing and buying into the program and doing their turn. Our young guys; we don’t have time for them to be young with simple mistakes. We’re all buying into the program and playing as one.”