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Friday, September 17, 2004

X-Factor Week 3: Kansas 48, Northwestern 29

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Before the real 2004 Kansas University football season started, head coach Mark Mangino said he thought freshman wide receiver Marcus Henry could be "an impact player" for the Jayhawks.

In this week's X-Factor virtual simulation of the Jayhawks' game against the Northwestern Wildcats, Henry proved Mangino to be prophetic.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound true freshman was named KU's player of the game after catching six passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns in a 48-29 victory over Northwestern, moving the virtual Jayhawks' record to 2-1.

Henry's 196 receiving yards were the most every by a KU freshman receiver and the fifth-most yards in a game by any Jayhawk. His 32.6 yards per catch average also was the highest for a single game.

Henry started his record-setting day early, catching a 34-yard pass from Adam Barmann on KU's second drive of the game. The reception put the Jayhawks in field goal range for freshman kicker Scott Webb, who drilled a 37-yarder with just less than five minutes gone in the first quarter. (Editor's note: With NCAA Football 2005 not allowing multiple placekickers, Webb is our virtual kicker for all extra points and field goals).

Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, Barmann was shaken up just a play after Henry's catch. KU called a halfback pass, which turned into a lateral when Randle threw behind himself to Barmann, who was drilled on the play and had to leave. He sat out the rest of the quarter with a bruised sternum and was replaced by Brian Luke.

After Webb's field goal, KU's defense forced a second straight punt by Brian Huffman. Charles Gordon returned the kick to Northwestern's 46-yard line, and the Jayhawks took advantage of the good field position five plays later. Luke hit Brandon Rideau with a 22-yard scoring pass down the left sideline for a 10-0 lead.

Northwestern finally moved to midfield on its next possession, but was then forced to punt. The Wildcats punted on their final three drives of the first period as well, and went three-and-out on four of their six first-quarter drives.

Barmann returned to the field on KU's first drive of the second period, and led the Jayhawks 70 yards into the end zone in 10 plays. John Randle finished the drive with a 35-yard scoring run down the right sideline, putting a move on Marquice Cole at the line of scrimmage and running over Tim McGarigle on his way across the goal line.

KU added another touchdown two possessions later on a 51-yard pass from Barmann to Henry. The freshman receiver broke Dominique Price's tackle at the Northwestern 28-yard line and outran McGarigle down the right sideline.

The Wildcats finally got on the scoreboard midway through the quarter on a 45-yard pass from Brett Basanez to Ashton Aikens, the first of three scoring completions for the pair. KU free safety Rodney Harris made a diving attempt at the pass but couldn't quite pick it off. Noah Herron's two-point conversion run brought Northwestern within 16 points, 24-8.

Northwestern closed within two touchdowns on the opening drive of the second half on Huffman's 31-yard field goal. The kick made the score 24-11 in favor of KU and was the Wildcats' first red-zone score in four chances.

Kansas wasted no time answering, upping its lead to 20 points, 31-11, just a bit more than two minutes later on a one-yard run by Randle. Barmann and Henry hooked up for a 32-yard third-down conversion two plays before Randle's touchdown.

Another Huffman field goal two possessions later brought Northwestern a bit closer, but another one-yard run by Randle, a 39-yard field goal from Webb, both late in the third quarter, and a 62-yard pass from Barmann to Henry late in the fourth quarter kept the game out of the Wildcats' reach.

Basanez and Aikens kept things interesting, though, hooking up for two more touchdowns. The first was a 53-yard completion late in the third quarter and the second was a six-yard score the drive before Henry's second score.

Barmann finished 20-of-48 passing for 448 yards and two touchdowns. He also was intercepted twice and rushed nine times for minus-17 yards.

Randle rushed 35 times for 72 yards and three touchdowns, and Austine Nwabuisi had four carries for 21 yards.

Along with Henry's six grabs and 196 yards, Rideau had five catches for 75 yards, Mark Simmons had five receptions for 106 yards, and Gary Heaggans gained 95 yards on four catches.

Basanez went wild through the air in the losing effort, completing 29 of 61 passes for 512 yards and three touchdowns - all to Aikens, who caught 16 passes for 300 yards and was named Northwestern's player of the game.

Notes:
¢ Gabriel Toomey forced two fumbles, including one in the second quarter after a reception by Aikens.

  • Huffman was short on a 40-yard field goal attempt late in the second quarter.
  • Barmann tied for most completions in a game (David Jaynes, 10-6-73, Tennessee), set second-most yards in a game (including sophomore record)
  • Theo Baines forced a fumble on a punt return and Nick Reid recovered the ball late in the third quarter, setting up Randle's second one-yard scoring run.

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