Jayhawks Fall Short to No. 4 TCU on Senior Day, 34-30
LAWRENCE, Kan. – On fourth and inches from Kansas’ 14-yard line with 2:14 left in the game, TCU mustered its lone fourth-down conversion of the game to end all hopes of a KU upset, as the Kansas football team dropped its home finale to the Horned Frogs, 34-30, Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
The Jayhawks (3-7, 1-6 Big 12) controlled the scoreboard for more than 24 minutes in the middle half of the game until a TCU (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) touchdown with 2:38 left in the third quarter swept the game away from Kansas and gave the Horned Frogs the momentum they needed to outlast KU in the final period of play.
Senior tight end Jimmay Mundine and junior wide receiver Nigel King bolstered the KU aerial assault, combining for 265 of the Jayhawks’ 418 yards of offense with 100-plus-yard efforts and a score each. King finished the day with five receptions and a career-high 128 yards, while Mundine shattered his previous career mark with 137 yards on seven grabs. Those 137 yards were the most by a Kansas tight end since 1974.
Junior quarterback Michael Cummings aired it out for a career-high 332 yards and two touchdown tosses, while freshman running back Corey Avery accounted for one of KU’s two rushing scores, with Cummings being the other. Cummings’ 332 yards rank 20th all-time for most passing yards in a game and were the most since Todd Reesing threw for 338 against Duke Sept. 19, 2009.
The Kansas defense harnessed the momentum and energy the offense sparked throughout the contest and forced three TCU turnovers while also coming up huge on a fourth-down stop deep in KU territory which led to one of the Jayhawks’ four touchdowns on the day.
Senior linebacker Ben Heeney turned in the seventh double-digit tackling performance of the season and 18th of his career with 11 stops. Senior safety Cassius Sendish was right on his heels with 10 tackles of his own, while junior linebacker Jake Love tallied seven.
TCU wasted no time getting its high-powered offense rolling in the first quarter, scoring on its opening possession just two minutes into the contest. The Horned Frogs strung together a seven-play, 67-yard drive, capped off by a 27-yard strike from Heisman hopeful quarterback Trevone Boykin to wide receiver Ty Slanina for the game’s first touchdown.
The quick score didn’t deflate the Jayhawks’ spirit, as the offense – with a little help from a TCU personal foul and some special teams magic – marched down the field and punched the ball in the end zone for six points of their own by way of a two-yard run by Avery.
The drive started with senior running back Tony Pierson taking the ball on the KU 37-yard line and rushing 12 yards to jump-start the offensive attack. However, three incomplete passes in a row from Cummings brought senior punter Trevor Pardula onto the field on fourth down. TCU linebacker Paul Whitmill rushed off the edge and clipped Pardula on the punt attempt, breathing new life into the KU offense.
With renewed spirit, Kansas chalked up two first downs to move just outside the red zone at the TCU 23-yard line, thanks to a 14-yard rush by Pierson and an eight-yard grab by King. Stuffed on third down, sophomore kicker Matthew Wyman trotted onto the field to have a go at a 40-yard attempt.
Interim head coach Clint Bowen had something different in mind and called for sophomore quarterback and holder T.J. Millweard to roll out attempting a fake field goal. Millweard completed just his second pass of the season, hitting senior tight end Trent Smiley for 10 yards and a first down to the Horned Frogs’ 13-yard line. Cummings followed suit and capped the 17-play drive off with a 12-yard bullet to senior wide receiver Nick Harwell to pull within one of TCU, 7-6.
After allowing three first downs on three big plays, the Kansas defense tightened up and held the Horned Frogs stagnant on a fourth-down attempt on its own 11-yard line to hand the reigns back to the offense trailing by one point.
The Jayhawks controlled the pace into the second quarter after the turnover on downs, grinding out their longest drive of the season of six minutes and 18 seconds. Cummings and Mundine highlighted the aerial assault with the tight end hauling in all three passes thrown to him for 50 of the drive’s 89 yards and KU’s second touchdown to take the first lead over a top-five opponent for the first time since the 2008 FedEx Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech, 13-7.
TCU mustered one last scoring effort in the second period when kicker Jaden Oberkrom connected on a 24-yard field goal to pull within three of the Jayhawks, 13-10, with 3:41 to play in the half.
Kansas carried its first-half momentum into the third quarter and opened the frame with a touchdown to build a 10-point lead, 20-10. Of the 82-yard drive, Mundine hauled in 77 yards receiving, including a career-long 67-yard grab to set up Cummings for an easy rushing touchdown.
The Horned Frogs answered back with a touchdown of their own, to pull back within three, 20-17. KU didn’t quit and on the first play of the ensuing drive, King hauled in a one-handed grab dancing down the sideline from Cummings for 78 yards and his first score of the season to increase KU’s lead back to 10, 27-17.
TCU scored 14-unanswered points to close out the quarter, capped off by a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown by wide receiver Cameron Echols-Luper to give the Horned Frogs their first lead since the KU’s touchdown early in the second quarter, 31-27, which they held the remainder of the game. A field goal early in the fourth by Oberkrom increased the lead to seven, 34-27, with 12:08 to play.
However, a 23-yard field goal by Wyman was all the Jayhawks had left in the tank, as they fell short of the upset, 34-30.
The Jayhawks head to Oklahoma for the first of back-to-back road games to close out the 2014 slate, Saturday, Nov. 22. Kickoff against the Sooners is set for 11 a.m., and can be seen on FOX Sports 1.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.