No. 16 Cowboys Eek Past Jayhawks, 27-20
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Oklahoma State’s Tyreek Hill used a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to dash hopes of a Kansas upset of the No. 16 Cowboys Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. Hill was bottled up for much of the game but responded to a game-tying touchdown by Kansas in the waning minutes, leading Oklahoma State to a 27-20 victory.
Hill, Oklahoma State’s “Cheetah”, surged past Kansas’ “Junkyard dog” quarterback Michael Cummings, who set new career highs with 20 completions for 288 yards in his first start since 2012. Cummings engineered several key drives for Kansas, including a 14-play, 72-yard drive to set up a game-tying field goal from Matthew Wyman with 6:55 left in the game, but couldn’t find an answer in the final minute and was intercepted on fourth down to end KU’s threat.
Kansas (2-4, 0-3 Big 12) outgained Oklahoma State (5-1, 3-0 Big 12) in total yardage, 379-275, including a season-best 288 through the air and played stifling defense in the second half while holding the Pokes to just 60 second-half yards. KU’s Nick Harwell caught seven passes for a game-high 91 yards and was followed closely by tight end Jimmay Mundine, who snagged five passes and lumbered for 88 yards. Defensively, Kansas was led by Ben Heeney who logged 14 total tackles, including 3.5 for loss.
Oklahoma State was led offensively by Desmond Roland, who rushed for 87 yards and a first quarter touchdown, while OSU quarterback Daxx Garman was 17-of-31 for 161 yards and threw a touchdown and a interception in the game. Ben Grogan knocked through 2-of-3 field goal tries.
The Jayhawks looked poised to upset their first ranked opponent since 2010. In interim head coach Clint Bowen’s second full week leading the program, the Jayhawks held Oklahoma State without a score in the second half while taking advantage of Cassius Sendish’s first career interception and wacky forced fumble recovery. Kansas rallied from a 20-7 halftime deficit, only to see Hill scorch the special teams and lift Oklahoma State to a Big 12 Conference win.
Still, the game had a different feel than recent meetings with the Cowboys.
Grogan opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 43-yard attempt to give OSU a 3-0 lead with 9:36 to play, but Kansas used an early, heavy dose of Tony Pierson to find a way through the Cowboy defense.
Pierson tied a season high with seven total touches in the first quarter of the game and had 10 total touches in the first half, and despite only tallying 44 yards before the break, the strategy seemed to open up additional options for Kansas. Pierson rushed four times early in the answering drive before Cummings went over the top to Harwell for a 51-yard connection into the Oklahoma State red zone. Cummings capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown dive and gave Kansas its first lead in a Big 12 contest since upsetting West Virginia at home last season.
The scoring flurry continued as Roland gashed the middle of the Kansas defense for a 33-yard touchdown scamper to make it 10-7 at the end of the first quarter. Grogan added his second field goal early in the next period from 25 yards out to make it a 13-7 contest and that’s where the score appeared to be stalling heading into the half after he missed a 33-yard try – but Oklahoma State made use of timeouts and short punt to tack on a final tally before the break.
Kansas ended Oklahoma State’s first drive after the half when Sendish ran under a deep Garman pass, forced a three-and-out on the second drive, then forced a forward fumble off a sack by Michael Reynolds that laid on the field for a couple seconds before either team realized it was a live ball.
After missing a field goal try with 5:54 to play, Wyman punched a 21-yarder through with 3:08 left in the third to cut Oklahoma State’s lead to 20-10.
Like Roland for OSU in the first half, KU’s Corey Avery found a huge hole and scampered for a 23-yard score less than a minute into the fourth quarter, then Wyman tied it up after a drive stalled just short of a first down in Oklahoma State territory, knocking through a 35-yard attempt with 6:55 to play.
That’s when Hill struck.
Kansas had two opportunities with the ball late in the game but Oklahoma State stepped up the pressure, forcing a three-and-out on the first drive and then intercepted Cummings near midfield to end any chance of another rally.
Kansas will continue Big 12 Conference play and travels to Texas Tech next weekend for a 2:30 p.m. start in Lubbock on Fox Sports Net. Texas Tech will also be looking to bounce back after dropping a one-score contest at home to West Virginia Saturday.
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