Kansas coach Charlie Weis talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 31-17 victory over South Dakota State on Sept. 1, 2012.
KU players talk following their 31-17 win over SDSU on Sept. 1, 2012.
Zach Zenner accepted a handoff two to three yards deep in the end zone, busted through Kansas University’s line and 13 seconds later completed the longest touchdown run in South Dakota State football history.
Zenner, a 6-foot, 215-pound sophomore from Eagan, Minn., re-wrote the Jackrabbit record books by racing 99 yards from scrimmage to open the scoring in a 31-17 loss to the Jayhawks in Memorial Stadium.
“Now I have to quit saying he’s never going to outrun anybody because he outran some people tonight. He outran some pretty good football players,” SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier said. “He’s a good football player, a tough football player.”
Zenner’s run erased the old school-record run of 95 yards, set by Mike Lunde in 1976. It also was the longest run ever against a KU defense, the Jayhawks having allowed two 95-yarders through the years
“That’s pretty cool,” said Zenner, who tied KU’s Eric Vann for the longest run in Memorial Stadium history. Vann burned Oklahoma back in 1997. Gale Sayers also had a 99-yard TD run for KU, but that was at Nebraska in 1963.
“We’ve been working on a lot of the same running plays the past few weeks. We thought that one maybe had a chance to hit big, and it did,” Zenner said.
His dash came on a first-down call. Quarterback Eric Kline risked a safety by handing him the ball so deep in the end zone.
“I mean, you’ve got to fall forward. That’s a priority always, especially when you are backed up,” Zenner said.
Zenner finished with 183 yards off 23 carries.
“For a running back to do well, it starts up front,” he said. “The offensive line has to have a great day, which it did. I played OK. There’s a few solos I wish wouldn’t have happened. You can’t have solo tackles.”
The Jackrabbits used a pair of quarterbacks on Saturday. Backup Eric Kline started and hit four of nine passes for 32 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. Projected starter Austin Sumner, who Stiegelmeier said would not play because of a hand injury, hit 14 of 31 passes for 175 yards, a TD and four interceptions.
Stiegelmeier said Sumner wanted to play. A trainer called a team doctor back home in South Dakota, who apparently said it was OK.
“Austin said he was ready to play. I didn’t think he would play. I really didn’t until ... I felt we needed to make some throws that weren’t being made,” Stiegelmeier said.
“Austin wanted to play the day after he was injured ... you balance the spirit of the young man, the health of the young man, the welfare of your football team. Had we made more plays other than the 99-yard run in the first half and a few other plays, I don’t think Austin Sumner would have ever played. We may have won or we may have lost. We weren’t making those plays. I thought we needed a shot in the arm and he said he was ready,” the coach added.
As far as his overall opinion of the 14-point loss, Stiegelmeier said: “I was proud of our team in a ton of ways. Kansas is very well coached, has a good scheme. They know when to hurry up and know when to slow down. I think their quarterback (Dayne Crist) is a poised young man. He will make a lot of plays for them.”