Offensive Woes Doom Jayhawks in 23-0 Loss to Texas
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Four interceptions and two fourth-down miscues haunted the Kansas football team Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium as the Longhorns clipped the Jayhawks, 23-0, to open up Big 12 Conference play.
Texas stymied the Jayhawks and forced Kansas sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart into a career-high four interceptions – none more devastating than the first and fourth picks that set the table for Texas to score nine of its 16 points on the day. The Kansas defense was equally stout as senior linebacker Ben Heeney logged his 14th double-digit tackling effort and the team limited the Longhorns to just 13 points through three quarters, but KU couldn’t find a way to light up the scoreboard.
The Jayhawks (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) had more than enough opportunities to put some points on the board, but two fourth-down stops by the Longhorns (2-2, 1-0 Big 12), one on the five-yard line, shutout Kansas for the first time in 2014 and the first time since the squad’s loss at Iowa State, 34-0, Nov. 23, 2013.
Cozart finished the game 12-of-31 for 140 yards. Junior running back De’Andre Mann led the ground attack with 17 touches for 83 yards, including a 20-yard rush in the third quarter. Three different receivers posted 30 or more yard efforts in the KU aerial attack, with senior Nick Harwell leading the squad with 39 yards on five receptions.
Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes completed 19 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns, and connected six times with wide receiver John Harris for 89 yards and a touchdown.
Heeney had 10 stops, including a half sack and 1.5 TFLs. Junior defensive lineman Andrew Bolton racked up a career-high five stops with 0.5 sacks and 2.5 TFLs, both career-highs as well.
KU’s prime scoring opportunity came late in the third quarter when the Jayhawks drove the ball deep into Texas territory thanks to Mann’s 31 yards on the ground. Cozart connected with Harwell for 11 yards to move the ball to the UT nine-yard line. Faced with fourth down, Cozart threw a fade to junior wide receiver Nigel King but Longhorn defensive back Thomas Duke broke up the pass and ended Kansas’ scoring chances.
The Jayhawk defense held Texas scoreless in the third quarter to keep the game manageable with a 13-point deficit. A fourth quarter interception by Cozart and a failed fourth-down conversion paved the way for UT to tack on another 10 points, resulting in the game’s final, 23-0.
The game kicked off with a defensive battle throughout much of the opening quarter with a turnover credited to each defensive squad. The Jayhawks’ came late in the first quarter when Texas fumbled the ball on the KU two yard line. The Texas defense erased that quickly when it forced Kansas to punt, with senior Trevor Pardula legging one 51 yards.
However, Longhorn wide receiver and return man Jaxon Shipley found a hole and returned the boot 41 yards to the Kansas 18-yard line to set up the ensuing scoring drive that ended with Swoopes completing a touchdown pass to wide out MJ McFarland with 55 seconds left in the first. A failed extra point attempt left UT on top, 6-0, heading into the second period.
The defensive attack continued until late in the second quarter when Texas forced Cozart to throw his second interception of the game leaving the Longhorns with prime field position on the Kansas 13-yard line and an opportunity to tack on more points.
UT took advantage and Swoopes showed off his ground speed running it in for the game’s second score in favor of the Longhorns, 13-0, with 4:42 left in the half.
Kansas hits the road for this first conference road game of the 2014 slate when it travels to West Virginia Saturday, Oct. 4. The Jayhawks and Mountaineers kick off at 3 p.m. (CT), with a live broadcast on FOX Sports Net.
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