Jayhawks Fall Short at Rutgers, 27-14
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Trailing 13-0 in the second quarter and down a quarterback, Kansas called upon junior Montell Cozart – who didn’t start after suffering from flu-like symptoms – to provide a spark to get the offense rolling Saturday afternoon at High Point Solutions Stadium.
Cozart dug deep and gutted the Jayhawks to 14 points, completing 13-of-18 passes for 193 yards in the process – all after entering the game midway through the second quarter. Cozart’s efforts in the air, mixed with two rushing touchdowns by junior running back Ke’aun Kinner, ignited a late Kansas (0-3) comeback that fell short in a 27-14 loss to Rutgers.
The Scarlet Knights (2-2) relied on 100-plus yard efforts by running backs Josh Hicks (113) and Robert Martin (102), and a 201-yard performance in the air by quarterback Chris Laviano to pace them to victory. Hicks rushed for two touchdowns on the day, while Laviano connected with wide receivers Carlton Agudosi and Matt Flanagan for two passing scores.
The Jayhawk defense showed promise forcing three turnovers in their second-straight game. Freshman cornerback Tyrone Miller, Jr., led the way with a personal-best 11 tackles while also forcing and recovering the first fumble of his young career. Junior safety Tevin Shaw (10) and senior defensive end Ben Goodman (7) each bested their career numbers for tackles.
Rutgers broke open the scoring in the first quarter after Laviano hit Agudosi for a 14-yard touchdown reception over
Miller in the corner of the end zone. The 11th play capped off a 91-yard scoring drive to put the Scarlet Knights up, 7-0, with 1:49 to play in the quarter.
RU threatened again midway through the second until junior safety Greg Allen picked off the first pass of his career in his own end zone with 9:24 to play in the half. The interception, KU’s first on the season, halted Rutgers’ prime chance to increase its lead, holding the score, 7-0.
However, the Jayhawks failed to take advantage of the game’s first turnover, handing the ball right back to the Scarlet Knights following an interception by junior quarterback Deondre Ford at the Kansas 32-yard line. Rutgers stepped on the gas and scored on the third play of the ensuing drive. A bad snap on the point-after-touchdown attempt held the score, 13-0, in favor of RU.
Backed by a 41-yard scamper from senior running back De’Andre Mann, Kansas found its first points of the game to cut the Rutgers lead to six, 13-7. Cozart entered the game to replace an injured Ford and a Kinner rush capped off the 68-yard drive by way of a two-yard touchdown run. Kinner’s fourth of the season, with 6:47 left in the half.
The Scarlet Knights answered back with 2:31 to play in the half, pushing their lead to 20-7. Hicks rushed it in from the one-yard line for his first of two touchdowns on the day giving Rutgers a 13-point lead heading into the locker room.
Rutgers picked up where it left off and opened the second half with an 84-yard scoring drive increasing its lead, 27-7. Hicks found the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the game, and the Scarlet Knights took their largest lead of the game at 20.
Miller sparked the Jayhawks late in the third quarter after he forced and recovered the first fumble of his career at mid field. Riding that wave of momentum, Cozart marched Kansas down the field to set up another rushing touchdown for Kinner, his fifth of the season. That score by Kinner tied for the most rushing touchdowns by any KU player all of last season, and the most since James Sims in 2013, and dwindled Rutgers lead, 27-14.
The Jayhawks weren’t able to muster any more points late in the fourth quarter to get within striking distance. On the other side of the ball, Rutgers ran out the remaining four minutes on the clock and sealed the victory, 27-14.
Kansas continues its road swing as it heads north to Ames, Iowa, to open up Big 12 Conference play at Iowa State. Kickoff for Saturday, Oct. 3, is slated for 11 a.m., and can be seen on Fox Sports Net.
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