Kansas defeats Central Michigan, 24-10

  • 2:30 p.m., Sept. 20, 2014
  • David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, KS

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Better late than never

McCay's 60-yard, fourth-quarter TD pushes KU past CMU

Kansas senior receiver Justin McCay (19) leaves Central Michigan's Kavon Frazier (5) in his wake as he takes it to the house, breaking a 10-10 tie early in the fouth quarter of their game Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas senior receiver Justin McCay (19) leaves Central Michigan's Kavon Frazier (5) in his wake as he takes it to the house, breaking a 10-10 tie early in the fouth quarter of their game Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.


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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Weis on KU's productive 4th quarter and win vs. Central Michigan

Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis discusses the Jayhawks' victory Saturday against Central Michigan. Though KU scored a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, the home team didn't get back into the end zone until the fourth quarter — just in time to break a tie game and win ...

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Box score

A slugfest turned into a rocking celebration in the Kansas University locker room near Memorial Stadium, where the Jayhawks knocked off Central Michigan, 24-10, Saturday in front of a crowd of 34,822.

Kick-started by senior Tony Pierson's 74-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage, the Jayhawks (2-1) jumped out early, watched Central Michigan (2-2) tie the game at 10 with 6:11 to play in the third and then reclaimed control with a 60-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart to senior wide receiver Justin McCay, both Bishop Miege High grads, both players in dire need of a feel-good moment.

The pass that proved to be the game-winner — later in the fourth, Corey Avery scored on a 30-yard screen pass from Cozart to ice the game — was thrown before McCay ever even came out of his break.

That probably would not have happened a week ago. But a first-half game plan by John Reagan designed to rebuild Cozart's confidence resulted in a 15-of-22 passing performance and allowed the quarterback to feel comfortable enough in the second half to try some throws with a higher degree of difficulty.

There was one to Jimmay Mundine (67 yards on six receptions) for 18 yards that set up a 27-yard Matthew Wyman field goal in the third quarter. And, of course, this one to McCay, which KU coach Charlie Weis called “the turning point in the game.”

As the ball was thrown, McCay finished his route — past the sticks, get the first down, keep the drive alive, was the soundtrack that played in his head — and saw the ball coming his way. He used his 6-foot-2, 210-yard frame to shield CMU defensive back Dennis Nalor from deflecting it and used his strength to throw him off and break free. From that point, there were only a couple of things on McCay's mind.

“Don't get caught from behind, don't go down at the one,” he said.

Cozart, who was hit on the play, actually watched McCay sprint to the game-winning touchdown on the video board in the south end of Memorial Stadium.

“I heard everyone cheering, so I knew it was something good,” said Cozart, who finished 23-of-33 for 226 yards and two touchdowns. “That felt good.”

The huge play was a big moment for McCay, too, a fifth-year senior and former highly touted prospect who transferred to KU from Oklahoma and has had an up-and-down career with the Jayhawks. The biggest thing, McCay said, was the win. Of course. But Weis said McCay's big moment was the continuation of a solid stretch for the senior from Kansas City, Mo.

“It's good for Justin,” Weis said. “Him getting an opportunity to make a big play like that, it's almost like payback for all the hard work he's put in.”

As McCay and his smile ran to the sideline to celebrate his touchdown with the Jayhawks back in front and on their way to victory, the jokes started to filter through his helmet and into his ears.

“'Grandpa scored,' and 'You didn't just block this time,'” McCay said, recalling the barbs from teammates. “Stuff like that. But, if they score, I've got jokes for them too.”

There was nothing funny about the importance of Saturday's victory for Kansas. After a less-than-stellar opener against Southeast Missouri State and a drubbing by Duke a week ago, Kansas was at a bit of a crossroads. You could feel it during the game, as the two teams entered the fourth quarter tied at 10, with KU's season and perhaps more hanging in the balance.

Instead of falling flat, the Jayhawks rose to the challenge and now take just a little more confidence into the start of a nasty Big 12 schedule that opens with Texas next week.

For that, Weis was overjoyed.

“I thought it was a significant improvement (from last week),” he said. “I didn't think we harped on things.... The locker room was as happy a locker room as we've had in a long time.”

Weis said pulling it out with big plays in the fourth quarter not only led to the party but also a sense of relief and accomplishment.

McCay agreed. With a huge smile, of course.

“I saw a lot of guys who were happy for each other,” McCay said. “This is my fifth year playing, and wins are hard to come by. You can't roll the ball out there and there's the game. You gotta compete every play. We wanted to be 2-1 after today and, as a team, we got that goal done.” 


7 years ago

Weis thinks this was a significant improvement over last week? Not sure how he comes to that conclusion - the team they beat is a far cry from the team that ran over the hawks last week.

John Fitzgerald 7 years ago

I agree Brett, Texas will be an interesting matchup. I think they have far more talent than us and that may be enough for them to sqeak out a win. I mean, they hung with UCLA which really shows me their potential.

Chayse Patrick 7 years ago

Weis had to say something positive.... LOL because next week starts a killer Big 12 schedule. And a lot of people are saying we'll beat UT. yea when pigs fly!!

Armen Kurdian 7 years ago

KU did what they were supposed to. At least they played with some fire. So long as they don't take any more backwards steps. This is probably a big confidence boost for them, they needed this. Enjoy the evening 'Hawks.

Micky Baker 7 years ago

I do like how KU finished. Cozart was more poised today. He took some more hits, and hey, that's going to have to happen. There were some good play calls in the fourth quarter when CMU thought we were going to ram it down their throats. The receivers did well catching the ball (Thank you Kliseau).

What Harwell and Shepherd contributed to the return game cannot be overlooked either. They both did a good job in getting Kansas good field position, and Jacorey made a great play for that interception(Stuckeyish). I want to give kudos to Harwell. He didn't catch many balls, but what he did do is occupy defenders which made that 60 yard play to McKay possible. Pierson also occupied defenders. McKay did a great job on sealing the defender off, and really the only thing the defender could have done there is just make sure that there isn't any advancement of the ball after that catch, but the defender tried to defend the ball. There was nobody left to stop McKay because the defenders were worried about Harwell and Pierson. Not to mention, Cozart put it right on the numbers in a clutch situation. It was a great play by the whole team there.

Jake Love went into beast mode, and KU got to the QB numerous times. If they can just keep their feet under them so they can at least get hits on the QB, that can be a positive development. The defensive line was more active and more physical today, but still has some room to improve. Get those inside moves where you swim over the arms of the O-lineman, and they're going to get to the QB more often. Overall the defense's intensity stayed at a high level.

Regarding playcalling, Reagan, I liked the plays you called in the second half except for the 3rd and short twice in a row deep in CMU's territory. That was an opportunity that we lost due to bad play calling. You know, it is permissible to pass the ball from the Jayhawk formation. That Jayhawk formation won't work if you do the same thing every time with it. Sure, you can run different types of runs, but you have to be willing to suck the defense into it and dump one right over the top of them to a Harwell or Pierson and let them do the rest.

Aside from the blown opportunities in the first half due to the conservative play calling and the calls in the 3rd quarter that could have been very costly, there was one other missed opportunity when Pierson didn't just make sure he secured the ball keeping his back to the defender. Catch the ball, and just go down right away, and KU could have scored another TD there. We left points on the field, maybe as many as 14 on just two of the drives that KU sustained. Maybe it's because they don't want to show too much before conference play, but I don't like that strategy. You're going to have to execute the plays against stronger and faster players coming up.

Cora Smith 7 years ago

Tait, you and Keegan are smaller than I thought. You pick against the Jayhawks and then don't have the manhood to give them credit for a win. You still have to belittle them (they slumbered for three quarters) like they barely beat your prediction. They may not win another game. They may get blown out every time. However, they won this one when you helped stack public opinion against them. Man up and give them credit. They are 19 and 20 year olds finding their way.

John Fitzgerald 7 years ago

You realize at the beginning of the season people were upset at them because they had too much "optimism" right? My only suggestion to anyone who doesn't like the articles they write is to not read them. I think they were being honest and trying not to over exaggerate expectations.

Matt Tait 7 years ago

Not sure where you saw it written (by me) that they "slumbered for three quarters" so you lost me there.

Either way, I always try to write an accurate and honest assessment of what happened in the game, regardless of what I did or did not pick and that's exactly what this is. I enjoyed writing it because I enjoyed seeing something positive happen for Justin McCay, who is a great kid.

Sorry you had such a negative reaction to the story and our coverage.

Have a great day and thanks for reading!

Micky Baker 7 years ago

This article was written by Matt Tait, who did pick Kansas to win the game. They did slumber for three quarters. For whatever reason that may be, he didn't write anything that wasn't true.

Jonathan Allison 7 years ago

Tait went out of character this week and predicted a 27-17 win for the visitors.

Ethan Berger 7 years ago

It might have been only a 14 point game, but it was more than that. I saw a lot of improvements and some huh moments as well.

I was a fan of the play calling besides a couple times. It was smart to have Cozart dump fast. Many teams thrive off the short pass turn big gain (A&M). The huh moment was in the first have were we didn't really extend the field once they pressed. This would be fixed though.

One thing that still concerns me are bad timing penalties and lack of at the line adjustments. Twice on third down they showed a 7 man blitz when we only had 5 blockers. Two sacks and two punts resulted. However, we adjusted by doing screen passes. Twice we had big plays, one a TD.

Overall this was a huge step forward. We dominated the game even though scoreboard won't say so. Pierson fumble and Avery Fumble hurt us. But were weird plays so can't really be to upset. I don't know how many conf wins this means. Tech is terrible this year. ISU hasn't looked that good. Besides that, our conference is very tough. Play competive and pull games here and there and we might be able to get to 5 wins. Looks now that 34 win season is most likely.

David A. Smith 7 years ago

Yesterday's win was significant, in all of the ways described. One thing that sticks out to me is the Weis version of sawing wood. He has adjusted everything. He, the other coaches, and the players have worked hard to get to the place where they finish a game. That, combined with the blow out win that Duke enjoyed yesterday leads me to believe that the sky is not falling. Great job, Hawks!

DaNeille Dani Davis 7 years ago

So happy for them! Great win. Now, ride the momentum and confidence. Rock Chalk!

Michael Leiker 7 years ago

I saw a team starting to figure it out yesterday.

It will never cease to amaze me how people can put out the effort to go to a game like that one and then make the decision to get up and leave in the 3rd quarter or at half. We really have some players that are fun to watch this year. Do 30-60 year old men just not like football anymore? I don't get it. It wasn't that poorly played of game or anything. We have the worst football fan base of any major university, and don't compare us to Duke with an enrollment of 14k.

Why not have some fun and enjoy watching your school pull out a win? It's just weird.

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