Jayhawks fall to No. 11 Texas, 24-17, on Senior Day
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After a slow offensive start to the day, Kansas football dropped its final game of the season to No. 11 Texas, 24-17, on Senior Day inside David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
Kansas held Texas to its lowest first half total of the season with just seven points, which is the third time on the season that the Jayhawks have held their opponents to seven points or less in the first half.
During Kansas’ impressive defensive effort, junior defensive end Najee Stevens-McKenzie recorded his first-career interception, ending Texas’ Sam Ehlinger’s 308 pass attempts without an interception.
After Kansas went scoreless in the first three quarters, the Jayhawks put up two touchdowns and a field goal in the final 15 minutes of the game to narrow the Texas lead. Freshman running back Pooka Williams Jr. scored on a 57-yard run to put the Jayhawks on the board first early in the fourth quarter. Junior wide receiver Daylon Charlot added to the KU score with a 31-yard touchdown catch from senior quarterback Peyton Bender, the longest catch of Charlot’s career and his second touchdown of the season. Senior kick Gabriel Rui capped the Kansas scoring effort with a 45-yard field goal with 1:37 remaining in the game to bring the Jayhawks within one touchdown, but Texas recovered the onside kick attempt and ran out the clock to hand the Jayhawks the loss on senior day.
Head Coach David Beaty // Complete Beaty quotes
DAVID BEATY: They did what they had to do to win the game when the game was on the line. I’m very, very proud of our guys, they played they’re their tails off, they did not surprise us one bit by doing that for the rest of the season. They’re just great men. I said it before, the best thing about our team are the men on T very proud of our staff who did an amazing job, Clint Bowen, Kenny Perry, those two guys leadership in those roles, can’t thank them enough, they did a terrific job. And then just all the rest of our staff. Zac Woodfin and then all of our position coaches, just absolute studs that will no doubt land on their feet in really good places because they’re good men and they’re really good coaches. So just want to thank those seniors and I want to thank our team and I want to thank all the Jayhawks out there for having a chance to represent you. It’s been fun. So let’s take some questions.
Q. After a couple of onside kicks go your way, did you maybe feel like the momentum was going your way?
DAVID BEATY: We felt like we had the momentum there and I was really proud of (Gabriel) Rui coming in there and drilling that field goal, I think it was about a 40 yard field goal, so it was certainly not a gimmie, and he drilled it down there. And going and getting that onside kick after the re-kick was big. I thought our guys did a really nice job. I thought Coach Perry did a really nice job of trying to figure out what they were doing in terms of how they were shifting over. We know Craig Naivar really well, he’s one of my best friends in coaching, he’s the special teams coordinator over there. I thought he did a really nice job of getting them lined up in that last situation, they made a play and got down, but I was proud of our guys because they executed the way we wanted them to do. I thought Rui did a nice job of executing the kicks too.
Kansas Player Quotes // Complete Kansas Player Quotes
Peyton Bender // Senior // Quarterback
On what coach Beaty means to him:
“It’s really hard to put it into exact words, but that man has done a lot of things for me. I’ve built a great relationship with him. He’s been extremely fun to play for. I appreciate everything he has done and all the opportunities he gave me to come here, for having my back and giving it his all. Words can’t describe how much that has meant to me. I’ve had a couple talks with him the last few days and we have a great relationship to keep in touch. I really appreciate everything he has done for me.”
On the locker room after the game:
“It hasn’t really hit me yet that this is my last football game. I don’t think it will really start hitting me until spring comes around and everyone starts to put the pads back on. I appreciate everything that the coaches have said. They told everyone to stick together and continue to fight, whether it’s in life or in football. During my time here, the coaches have taught us a lot of valuable lessons. They’re great men, they’re great leaders and I’ve really enjoyed playing for all of them.”
Joe Dineen Jr. // Senior // Linebacker
On what it’s like playing on Senior day:
“There’s a lot of emotion and it hits you really fast. Obviously it’s sad and exciting. You look back and it goes by in the blink of an eye. Looking back on it, it was a lot of fun and I made a lot of memories.”
On what’s next for him:
“I am planning on taking a break for a little while and around New Year’s I will start getting back to the gym to train, hopefully for the combine. I have an All-Star game lined up for the middle of January and will do my best to get to the next level.”
On what he said to the underclassmen:
“Stay together. That’s the big thing. In my career here coaches do come and go. There’s a lot of change, but the only thing you can control is your effort and your commitment level. My advice for the younger guys is stay committed and stay together, and the sky is the limit.”
Daniel Wise // Senior // Defensive Tackle
On Joe Dineen, Senior Day and coming back for his senior season:
“I appreciate all of the love and support from the fans and everyone around KU (Kansas). The people at KU, I just want to thank you guys one more time from the bottom of my heart. The past four or five years here have been amazing and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Unfortunately, I didn’t beat Joe (Dineen) out, but it was a fun battle. We had a fun competition and made the competition have a fun spark to it.”
On his defensive unit, you guys are a real hard hat type of group:
“We have never been the group to fold regardless of the score. My defensive coordinator, Clint Bowen, all of the praise and props to him. We go out there and try to give the offensive as many chances as they can to get to the ball in the end zone and the guards the scoring opportunity, that’s just who we are.”
On coming back for his senior season:
“I am glad that I came back, my eyes are at 20-20. At first I was thinking that I was going to leave, but now that I came back it has been a truly amazing experience. Every year has toughened me in something different, but this year taught me what it meant to be a true leader. Each year you grow and grow, but this year I felt like I learned about how to truly lead a team mentally and physically. I also learned more about myself with each football game. I took my mental football learning to the next level. A lot of praise to my defensive line coach (Jesse) Williams. Time after time we talked to each other and he helped me learn how to really play the position.”
NOTABLES // Complete Postgame Notes
- Freshman running back Pooka Williams Jr. had one rush for 20 or more yards against the Longhorns. He now has 15 20-plus yard rushes on the season, which leads the Big 12.
- Williams ended his freshman season with 1,125 yards rushing, tying him with Kansas football legend Gale Sayers for second in rushing yards by a first year player. Sayers’ 1,125-yard season came as a sophomore, as freshmen were not allowed to play during his era. June Henley holds the freshman rushing record with 1,127 yards.
- Ending the day with 14 total tackles, senior linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. passed Curtis Moore to move into fourth place all-time in tackles in history with 391.
Coming into Saturday’s matchup, Dineen had a total of 133 tackles on the season. With 14 tackles against the Longhorn’s, Dineen brought his season total to 147 tackles, tying for the sixth most in a single season in Kansas history.
- Junior defensive end Najee Stevens-McKenzie recorded his first-career interception ending Sam Ehlinger’s 308 pass attempts without an interception streak.
- Stevens-McKenzie is the 12th Jayhawk on season with an interception and Kansas leads the Big 12 with 16 interceptions this season.
- Sophomore punter Kyle Thompson booted 21 of his 55 punts this season inside the 20-yard line. Three of his seven punts on Saturday were marked down inside the 10-yard line, including his career-long 76-yard punt that was downed at the four.
- Freshman Pooka Williams Jr. rushed for 57 yards to put Kansas of the board first with 14:44 remaining in the game.
- Junior wide receiver Daylon Charlot caught a 31-yard touchdown pass for the longest of his career to add to the Kansas score.
- Senior kicker Gabriel Rui’s 45-year field goal narrowed the Texas lead to one possession.