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South Dakota State defeats Kansas, 41-38

  • 11 a.m., Sept. 5, 2015
  • David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, KS

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Unfashionable late: Jayhawks drop season opener to South Dakota State

Game-ending fumbled snap ruins Cozart's outing

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart (2) fumbles a snap behind Kansas offensive lineman Keyon Haughton (70) with seven seconds remaining in the game against South Dakota State on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015 at Memorial Stadium. The error cost the Jayhawks an attempt at a game-tying field goal.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart (2) fumbles a snap behind Kansas offensive lineman Keyon Haughton (70) with seven seconds remaining in the game against South Dakota State on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015 at Memorial Stadium. The error cost the Jayhawks an attempt at a game-tying field goal.

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They say sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can start to climb back up.

And even by Kansas University football standards, Saturday's 41-38 loss to South Dakota State in front of a crowd of 30,144 at Memorial Stadium was a stop at the bottom floor.

Down 31-7 with 12:38 still to play in the first half, the Jayhawks battled all the way back and positioned themselves for what looked like a golden opportunity to trot junior kicker Matthew Wyman onto the field for an attempt at tying the game.

But after hitting sophomore Derrick Neal for a 20-yard gain to put the Jayhawks at the South Dakota State 33-yard line with seven seconds remaining, quarterback Montell Cozart fumbled the ensuing snap with five seconds to play and then attempted to spike it to stop the clock while lying on the turf. The referee, who was right on the spot watching the unusual play unfold, ruled Cozart down on first down and the junior's attempt to line back up and snap it to kill the clock on second down came up one second short.

The official waved his arms to signify the end of the game. The Jackrabbits' sideline exploded onto the field in celebration. And Cozart chucked the ball, under-handed, toward the Kansas sideline in disgust.

“I feel like I got too lax and when the ball hit me I just never really got a good grasp on it and I fumbled it,” Cozart said after the crazy ending. “You never think about stuff like that until it happens to you, and it felt like someone just uppercut me right in the gut.”

KU coach David Beaty, who now has the distinction of being the eighth Kansas coach in the past 10 hires to lose his debut (only Charlie Weis and Terry Allen came away winners), said he had never been part of an ending quite like that and added he felt horrible for Cozart and his entire team.

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

David Beaty explains what went wrong in loss to SDSU

After a fumbled snap kept Kansas football from running a play in the final seconds of a 41-38 loss to South Dakota State Sept. 5, 2015, at Memorial Stadium, new KU coach David Beaty addresses the issues on that play and other parts of the game with the media.

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“It's obviously unbelievably disappointing right now,” Beaty said. “That was a very tough locker room to look into for my first day as a head football coach in Division I football.”

The fact that the Jayhawks (0-1) were even in position to tie the game was a testament to the career day turned in by their junior quarterback. Looking more poised than in past seasons, Cozart was accurate and effective with his arm and decisive and dangerous with his legs. He finished 25-of-38 passing for 291 yards and a touchdown and added another 94 yards on 17 carries on the ground while leading the Jayhawks to 576 yards of total offense. Cozart finished with career bests in completions (25), attempts (38), passing yards (291) and rushing yards (94).

All of that after being responsible for two early turnovers — an interception on KU's first series and a fumble on its third — that helped the visitors from South Dakota build an improbable 24-point lead.

“Getting those early turnovers just settled me down,” Cozart said. “I took a deep breath on the sideline and said, 'Here we go. It's time to play ball.'”

Added Beaty: “Without Montell Cozart, we wouldn't have been in that game.... I was proud of that guy coming back and being resilient. He came back and continued to help us move the ball down the field with his arm, which is not something I'm sure we knew he could do going into it.”

The Jayhawks responded to the Mount Rushmore-sized hole by ripping off 21 straight points from the end of the second quarter to the beginning of the third. Senior receiver Tre' Parmalee (3 catches for 82 yards) scored on a 19-yard run off of a reverse to make the score 31-14 with 7:14 to play in the first half. And junior running back Ke'aun Kinner (157 yards and 2 TDs on 27 carries) scored back-to-back touchdowns to kick off the second half.

As it turned out, though, a costly decision late in the first half nearly had as much of an impact on Kansas losing the game as anything.

Facing a fourth-and-three on the SDSU 25 with 1:20 to play in the second quarter, Beaty elected to go for it instead of attempting a 42-yard field goal.

“Pretty hard,” said Beaty when asked how strongly he considered trying the field goal in that spot. “I was thinking about it, but we were a ways away and I wasn't sure that we didn't need that momentum going into halftime.

“Do I wish I had it back now? Absolutely. Rearview mirror, you look back at it and you're like, 'I'd love that opportunity.' But you know what, I'd love that opportunity that happened at the very end, too, but you don't get to guess like that.”

Despite all of the positive statistics and small steps forward that came during the first game of the Beaty era, Saturday's loss undoubtedly always will be remembered for the wild ending and “hard-to-swallow” loss to yet another FCS school from the Dakotas.

In 2010, then-head coach Turner Gill lost his debut, 6-3, to North Dakota State in the same stadium. That loss was marked by futility on offense. And this one was more on the defense, which continually missed tackles and gave up far too many big plays down the field early in the game.

South Dakota State wide receiver Jake Wieneke, who finished with 160 yards and two touchdowns on eight receptions, had 109 yards and a touchdown on four catches after a single quarter.

The Kansas defense did a better job on Wieneke over the next three quarters, but, as was the story with the game as a whole, the better effort turned out to be too little too late.

“We did just enough to stay close, and we didn't do enough to win the game,” Beaty said. “I think everybody in the stands, at least on our side, would have loved to have seen what happened (at the end of the game). But we've got to earn that, and we didn't earn it by taking care of the details.”

Kansas returns to Memorial Stadium next weekend to play host to Memphis in a 6 p.m. kickoff. 

— See what people were saying about KU football during our live coverage.


More news and notes from KU football vs. South Dakota State


Comments

Dale Rogers 4 years, 5 months ago

Matt, you might want to reconsider this statement... "ripping off 21 straight points from the end of the second quarter to the beginning of the third."

JD Roth 4 years, 5 months ago

You know I was up at the game and of all the signs I saw on Campus, not one of them said Kansas University, you guys have a real fetish calling KU, incorrectly I might add, Kansas University. KU is the University of Kansas, got it??????

Rodney Crain 4 years, 5 months ago

My word... smh

The two comments so far are about the writer? Give me a break.

JD is that chant done at every KU, (yeah I said it) sporting event, Rock Chalk Jayhawks KU wrong too? The way KU is talked about by everyone in sports, they are wrong, the students who say they are from KU, any alum who says they went to KU, they, everyone by the way, are wrong and you are right? I don't think so. KU is what we call ourselves, it is how everyone refers to us, and it is what we chant. So give it a rest for crying out loud. Oh and if you ever said rock chalk Jayhawk UK, watch out, I think you might get some angry looks from anyone standing near you.

Oh the game, oh yeah what we should be talking about, I saw fight from our program, I saw a chance to tie the game as a result of that fight and I saw improvement. From what we have had to endure in Football we should be saying nice first step. It was not a win, but it was better than what we have had in quite a while. I will take it and look forward to the next game.

Humpy Helsel 4 years, 5 months ago

OK. Alright. I think I'm starting to catch on. These are the types of ideas KU football fans latch onto during and after the games since the games themselves are so painful to comment on. Like, "I went into the bathroom at halftime to puke and I couldn't believe I had to chuck it up in such a crappy toilet. When are we going to build a new stadium with better toilets to puke in?" Or, "wow, I love going to KU games because you can just drive your car right up to the stadium and drive right out after the games because of the light traffic."

Still, I dig the more painful route of commenting on the actual game. I thought there was a lot to like in what I saw today. Why the panicked start which led to a horrific hole? I have no idea. But they settled down and showed some seeds of better days ahead. Montell has talent. What he lacks is confidence. I think he can get there, however. Notice our new coach standing behind him to help reduce any further confidence slippage.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 5 months ago

So I see you're digging that dead, bloated rotted, and diseased horse skeleton up to beat some more.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 5 months ago

Both, just because something is dead does not mean it isn't diseased as well.

Andy Hess 4 years, 5 months ago

41 points to an FCS school? Big 12 teams are going to set records on a defense this bad.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 5 months ago

KSU, keeping it classy since never! So much for that sportsmanship pledge.

Michael Lorraine 4 years, 5 months ago

No bid deal. Somewhat clever and mildly amusing but begs the question, why are they always thinking about us.

Chris Baker 4 years, 5 months ago

Should the headline not be "Unfashionably" late?

Michael Leiker 4 years, 5 months ago

Cozart is much improved, showed a ton of guts today, I was wrong to criticize him as harshly as I did last week. Looking forward to watching him get better this year.

Overall, you can't tackle, you can't win. Other than that I thought they played a pretty decent football game compared to what I was expecting. Just gotta get some guys who are willing to come up and put their head on a thigh pad.

Michael Lorraine 4 years, 5 months ago

I was generally pleased with Montell's performance. The turnovers happened early but he didn't fold and but them behind him. Seems to have difficulty reading defenses and finding the open receiver but in his defense he does not have a great O-line. However, he does make up for some of his shortcomings with his wheels. 96 yards is nothing to sneeze at. Was painful and unfortunate the way they lost on the last play but does not come close to the way Nebraska lost.

Bob Bailey 4 years, 5 months ago

Did any of you finally figure that what we need more than talent is a REALLY competent DC? Zenger doesn't know. And our KU DC was taught by an incompetent DC. They can't tackle; can't cover; and they are mis-applied to their defensive responsibility. If we had a DC coach that could teach the basics outlined by Coach Schacke in 1941 at LMHS, Lawrence, we would be well on our way to improvement. It would not mean we would contest for national champions, but our records would not be 2/10 or 0/12. Our recruiting might be better, but its about as good as it could be now!

There very few competent DC's out there. Pay what it takes to get one!

Calvin Miller 4 years, 5 months ago

It was Beaty's choice to retain Bowen. In short, that's why Beaty got the job; he was the only candidate that would keep Bowen as DC.

Ashwin Rao 4 years, 5 months ago

You hit the nail on the head! I don't like how Bowen coaches... and I wish Zenger had let Beaty make a decision with DC. Beaty did, what he had to, to get the position (i.e. retain Bowen). Now we will have to compensate for lack of a good defensive side.

Titus Canby 4 years, 5 months ago

I'm sitting in the stands during the first half thinking, we look like a high school team playing out there. Then I realized, it pretty much is a high school team. We started several freshmen on defense. You can't blame the coaches - at least the current ones. Adam is right. It's a disparity in both talent and experience.

If we improve as much in our second game as we did in the second half of this one, we might have a chance to be competitive against Memphis. Maybe.

With the exception of three of the worst plays I've ever seen, Cozart looked really good. Really good. But the defense was horrible. Absolutely horrible. And it is not Bowen's fault. It's Charlie's fault for lack of depth in prior years.

Scott Burton 4 years, 5 months ago

Wonder if Cox will see some playing time?

Richard Duran 4 years, 5 months ago

Some encouraging signs: they never quit, they made great adjustments at half, Cozart improved as the game went on, and at the end we could scored a TD. needs work: DL technique, they were getting pushed past the play too much. we may surprise someone this season.

Micky Baker 4 years, 5 months ago

The disappointing thing is that all of the mistakes that cost us the game were made by Cozart. Kansas would have scored at least 41 to SDSU's 27 at the most. It could have been something like 52-27 if Cozart didn't turn the ball over. Both of those were killers and gave SDSU starting field position inside our 30 yard line. The two turnovers were huge.

There are some positive signs, particularly on offense. So many contributed to more than 500 yards in total output, but that should have been higher against this team.

When Cozart was named the starter, it didn't sit well with me and this is the reason. He single handedly lost this game, despite his decent statistics outside the two turnovers.

There were also some plays where our defense just got scorched, but I'm not going to pin the blame on them for this loss. We are going to have to get things cleaned up. I do like how they fought back, but there was just too big of a hole to dig out of.

Dick Banks 4 years, 5 months ago

Coming from an SDSU fan...

Yes the win over a BCS team is huge, and I'm proud of my team.

But what I saw in the game was a KU program struggling to regain. And the key word is struggling. Not giving up. You have the number of scholarships that an FCS school is allowed because you have players that jumped ship. This kind of thing happens. But on a very hot day, down 31-7, many teams would have thrown in the towel and looked toward next week. That second half was some solid football, a real war out there. For those who stayed, some real entertainment.

Now what I see in KU is a very dangerous team--with really nothing to lose. Memphis may very well be walking into a buzz-saw this week. At any rate, look for a big upset pulled off by KU sometime this season, maybe more than once.

As for the Jacks, well we have our own challenges now, starting this week at home with another young and hungry team in Southern Utah. And of course the MVFC giant-killer on the horizon, NDSU...

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