EVANSTON, ILL. One comeback wasn't enough for Kansas University's football team against Northwestern.
The Jayhawks fought back from a 13-3 deficit and took a 17-13 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats answered back with a touchdown of their own just four plays later and held on in a 20-17 victory Saturday at Ryan Field.
"It was a physical, tough game and we want to give credit to Northwestern," KU head coach Mark Mangino said. "They were able to make enough plays to win the game and we did not."
Kansas (2-1) took the four-point lead after back-to-back touchdown passes from Adam Barmann to Brandon Rideau in the fourth quarter - a seven-yarder and a 20-yarder.
Northwestern (1-2) regained the lead four plays and less than two minutes later on a 12-yard pass from Brett Basanez to Brandon Horn. A 52-yard pass from Basanez to Mark Philmore, who broke two tackles on the play, was the highlight of the drive.
"I think that our defense played well all night, and I'm not going to be critical of the defense," Mangino said. "They played well all night except for that drive.
"I think two factors were involved. They weren't mature enough to understand that they had to go out and play - stop them and get the ball back. I think they were still excited about the offense scoring ...."
The Jayhawks had one last chance to tie the game, but Johnny Beck missed a 43-yard field-goal attempt with with less than a minute and a half left. It was Beck's second missed field goal of the game.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half, combining for just 291 yards on 75 plays.
"We just really didn't execute in that well," Barmann said of KU in the first half. "We put together drives, but we just stalled. I don't know why. We will have to go back and look at the film, but for some reason we just weren't clicking."
The Jayhawks tied the game on their next possession. A pass interference call on Northwestern gave KU a third-down conversion and Barmann hit Clark Green for 49-yard gain down the right sideline two plays later. Scott Webb made his first collegiate field goal, a 27-yarder, four plays later, tying the game.
After a Huffman punt, Kansas moved downfield thanks to a pair of big third down conversions. Barmann overthrew a wide-open Charles Gordon near the goal line with 18 seconds left, though, and Beck missed a 47-yard field goal wide right.
Northwestern turned its running game around after halftime, taking a 10-3 lead on its second possession of the half. Basanez scored on a two-yard run that ended a 10-play, 71-yard drive - all of which was on the ground.
KU went three-and-out on its next drive, and Philmore returned the punt 22 yards to KU's 40-yard line. The Wildcats moved within KU's 5-yard line thanks to an offsides penalty on the Jayhawks, and took a 13-3 lead on a 21-yard field goal by Huffman.
Barmann and Rideau hooked up KU's next two possessions, but it wasn't enough after Horn's touchdown reception.
Barmann finished 30-of-48 passing for 294 yards and two touchdowns and rushed six times for 19 yards.
John Randle carried the ball 12 times for 18 yards, and Clark Green rushed six times for 25 yards.
Rideau had seven catches for 84 yards, Lyonel Anderson caught five passes for 33 yards, and Randle had five receptions for 15 yards.
Basanez was 20-of-33 passing for 192 yards and a touchdown for Northwestern. He rushed eight times for seven yards.
Noah Herron rushed 18 times for 85 yards for the Wildcats, and Terrell Jordan had five carries for 49 yards.
Philmore caught seven passes for 113 yards, Ashton Aikens had three catches for 18 yards, and Horn caught three passes for 17 yards.
¢Freshman Kyle Tucker ticked KU's first punt of the second half, replacing Chris Tyrrell.
All stats are unofficial.