Late Rally Halted, Kansas Falls at No. 15 TCU, 23-17
FORT WORTH, Texas – A late fourth-quarter Kansas turnover halted a 13-point comeback as the Jayhawks fell, 23-17, to No. 15 TCU Saturday afternoon inside Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Down six with three minutes to play, freshman quarterback Ryan Willis gave Kansas (0-10, 0-7) its lone turnover of the game after being intercepted at his own 48-yard line to give the Horned Frogs the ball back with 2:54 to play. Like the rest of the game, every time KU needed a stop, its defense came up huge and this was one of those times.
The Jayhawks held TCU (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) to a three-and-out and regained possession at their own 17-yard line. Head coach David Beaty needed his rookie quarterback and offense to march 83 yards in 1:54 to have a chance at completing the comeback. Faced with such a tall task, KU couldn’t throw together one final attempt at the win and fell, 23-17.
Willis finished the game 20-of-41 for 203 yards and a touchdown. Freshman wide receiver Steven Sims caught six of those passes for 55 yards, while redshirt freshman Tyler Patrick caught three passes, including the touchdown strike from Willis.
Three KU defenders tallied double-digit tackling efforts for the first time since 2013 with senior linebacker Marcquis Roberts and junior safety Fish Smithson leading the way with 12 tackles a piece. Sophomore linebacker Joe Dineen, Jr., finished the day with 11, rounding out the trio with 10-or-more stops.
Smithson has now compiled at least 10 tackles in the last five-straight games and is the first Jayhawk to accomplish that feat since Carl Nesmith did so in 2000.
The threesome’s effort, compiled with the rest of the Jayhawk defense held TCU to 487 yards of offense, which is just the third time his year the Horned Frogs failed to accumulate at least 500 yards. The 23 points are also the fewest Kansas has given up in 2015, as Minnesota held TCU to the same number in week one.
The Horned Frogs used three different quarterbacks in the game after Heisman Trophy candidate Trevone Boykin left the game early in the first half. Backup quarterback Bram Kohlhausen took the majority of the snaps and finished the day 13-of-19 for 112 yards and one interception. Third-string quarterback Foster Sawyer connected on one of his seven pass attempts for 42 yards and TCU’s only offensive touchdown on the day.
Kansas stood toe-to-toe with the No. 12-ranked Horned Frogs in the first half behind a 135-yard effort from Willis. The rookie connected on 11-of-17 passes and hit fellow classmate Sims for five of them, including a season-long 40-yard strike.
The Jayhawks added 87 yards on the ground off a combined effort from running backs, junior Ke’aun Kinner (64) and senior Taylor Cox (25), with the senior rushing for KU’s lone touchdown of the half. Junior kicker Matthew Wyman added a 42-yard field goal to push the Kansas total to 10.
More impressively in the first half, KU held the high-potent offense of TCU to 211 yards, including a touchdown and a field goal. Boykin completed 5-of-8 passes for 54 yards before exiting the game early in the second quarter. Kohlhausen entered thereafter and threw for 51 yards on five completions.
The Horned Frogs only touchdown of the half came after KaVontae Turpin returned a punt 49 yards for the score with 5:05 to play in the first quarter. Kicker Jaden Oberkrom added a 42-yard field goal to round out TCU’s points at the half.
Trailing 10-3 late in the first quarter, Kansas forced a TCU punt deep in its own territory to setup the Jayhawks’ scoring drive. Junior defensive end Damani Mosby entered the game for the first time that series and immediately made an impact. The defensive end tallied four tackles in that seven-play series, including a sack for a loss of four yards to force a fourth down.
Senior wide receiver Tre’ Parmalee returned the ensuing punt 14 yards to the KU 30-yard line where Willis and the offense took it 70 yards down the field to knot up the score, 10-10, with 11:29 to play in the half.
Kansas’ offense went stagnant in the third quarter while TCU built a 13-point lead, including its lone offensive touchdown of the game. Thanks to the defensive effort the Jayhawks managed throughout the game, KU revived its offense in the final quarter to pull within six of the Horned Frogs.
However, the Jayhawks couldn’t string together one final drive with 1:54 to play and fell, 23-17.
The Jayhawks return to the confines of Memorial Stadium to close out the season with a two-game homestand beginning with West Virginia, Saturday, Nov. 21. Kickoff against the Mountaineers is slated for 11 a.m., and can be seen on Fox Sports Net.
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