Saturday, October 9, 2004
The second-half curse is gone.
Kansas University's football team had lost leads after intermission in its past three games, falling in each contest.
The Jayhawks lost another lead in the third quarter Saturday against the rival Kansas State Wildcats, but came back with 14 straight points in a 31-28 victory - KU's first against KSU in 11 years.
"When you're in for the long haul, you have to prepare your kids to deal with adversity and success," KU head coach Mark Mangino said. "We prepared our kids mentally that there were going to be dark days and hard times, but we couldn't lose track of where we were going."
Tony Madison gave the Jayhawks one of those dark days when he put the Wildcats ahead, 21-17, on an 86-yard pass from Dylan Meier less than two minutes into the fourth quarter.
The Jayhawks looked to be dead after backup quarterback Jason Swanson - who replaced starter Adam Barmann on KU's first possession of the final period - fumbled on KU's next possession.
KU defensive end Jermial Ashley kept the deficit at four points by blocking a 49-yard field-goal attempt by Joe Rheem, giving KU a first down at their own 32-yard line. Five plays later, Swanson made up for the earlier fumble with a 31-yard touchdown pass to Mark Simmons.
The junior wide receiver's one-handed grab gave KU a 24-21 lead with five and a half minutes left in the game.
Jon Cornish and Brandon McAnderson dropped KSU star running back Darren Sproles deep in KSU territory on the ensuing kickoff. Meier, unable to communicate with his teammates so close to the loud and obnoxious KU student section, had to call KSU's final two timeouts. Neither stoppage helped, though, as the Wildcats went three-and-out and K-State's punt went out of bounds at their own 38-yard line.
"Our fans were awesome," Mangino said. "They didn't stand out on the hill and watch it for nothing. The fans helped us tonight."
Two plays and 54 seconds later, Randle broke four tackles on a spectacular 43-yard scoring run, giving KU a 10-point lead with just more than three minutes left in the game.
"We thought that if we could get a block by the fullback, it could get out of the gate, and it did," Mangino said.
The Wildcats added a late touchdown pass to Brian Casey, but with no timeouts they couldn't stop the clock from running out before they could score again.
KU had taken a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter on a two-yard pass from Barmann to Lyonel Anderson.
Kansas State closed to within a point, 7-6, in the second quarter with two Rheem field goals.
The Jayhawks extended their lead to 11 points, 17-6, with a 27-yard field goal by Johnny Beck and a 24-yard hook and lateral from Barmann to Brandon Rideau to Randle.
Meier and Sproles brought the Wildcats within three points, 17-14, late in the third quarter. Meier scored from two yards out and Sproles ran in with the two-point conversion.
KU held Sproles to just 73 yards on 24 carries, and Kansas State to just 365 total yards.
Randle finished with 20 carries for 105 yards and a score, and five catches for 51 yards and a touchdown.
Barmann was 10-of-20 passing for 85 yards, and Swanson was 4-of-7 passing for 52 yards and a score.
Meier completed 15 of 24 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns, and Allen Webb - who played the first half for KSU - was 4-of-9 passing for 57 yards and an interception.
¢ KU cornerback Theo Baines left the game during KSU's second scoring drive favoring his right leg. Gordon left midway through the third quarter favoring his right leg, but returned later the same drive.
All stats are unofficial.