Saturday, October 27, 2018

KU football stuns TCU behind late-game theatrics

Kansas safety Mike Lee celebrated with fans after the win against TCU.

Kansas safety Mike Lee celebrated with fans after the win against TCU.


With a rare Kansas football victory at stake, senior quarterback Peyton Bender had to run. Backward.

And then throw the ball out of the back of the end zone.

And if all of that went perfectly, the Jayhawks would beat TCU Saturday at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

Actually, as it turned out, just one miscalculation in the final seconds of the fourth quarter wouldn’t sting the charmed-for-a-day Jayhawks. Bender successfully executed the safety, but left a single second up on the game clock.

It was enough time for TCU to field a Liam Jones squib kick but not enough to do anything with it and surpass a 27-26 KU lead, which proved to be the final score once Horned Frogs redshirt freshman La’Kendrick Van Zandt fielded the ball.

Irate TCU coach Gary Patterson told reporters afterward the plan was to not field the kick.

“Everybody was told fall on the ball, then the clock doesn’t start, and then you’ve got a chance to kick the field goal. Everybody was told fall on the ball,” Patterson said, using those last three words seven different times before he got done describing the game’s final play.

The preceding play from scrimmage proved even wilder, with KU aiming to avoid giving the ball back to the Frogs (3-5 overall, 1-4 Big 12) by any means.

“We were just trying to run out the clock,” Bender said of a play call that followed two consecutive KU timeouts with seven seconds to go in the fourth.

KU’s coaches asked Bender to field the 4th and 13 snap from the Jayhawks’ 16-yard line and begin retreating.

“Run into the end zone and just try and buy as much time as you can and throw the ball up,” Bender said of the plan, which hit a snag when his legal backward lateral hit a canopy behind the south end zone, leaving one second.

“It’s a hectic play, it’s something I hadn’t experienced,” Bender admitted. “So just trying to not fumble the ball, one, in the end zone, and, two, just not take a big windup to throw it. Just get it out quick.”

The oddity of the scene fit the victory, which ended KU’s 14-game Big 12 losing streak, dating back to a home win over Texas in 2016, David Beaty’s second as head coach.

The Jayhawks (3-5, 1-4) had a butt fumble to thank for TCU’s final offensive series concluding seven yards shy of the goal line with a little over a minute remaining.

TCU junior running back Darius Anderson took a handoff on 1st and goal, made a cut and bounced into sophomore offensive lineman Austin Myers’ backside, which popped the ball loose.

“I just couldn’t believe he dropped the ball,” KU senior defensive lineman KeyShaun Simmons, who pounced on it, recalled. “It was just like, ‘Wow. He really dropped the ball right here.’ I just hopped on it.”

The 6-foot-2, 295-pound Simmons never thought about doing anything other than falling on the ball.

“Yeah, I felt like if I wouldn’t have got it, somebody else would have from TCU,” Simmons said. “I just had to get on it. Get the win for my team.”

Especially for the eldest Jayhawks on the roster, a rare case of good fortune felt overdue.

Said redshirt senior linebacker Joe Dineen: “Games break one way or another, and to be on the side that it breaks for, it’s a little bit of a change and it’s exciting. I’m really happy for our guys.”

The turmoil of the game’s final minutes eventually spilled onto the postgame turf, as a couple hundred fans joined the Jayhawks in celebration.

“I couldn’t believe it. I got confused,” sophomore receiver Stephon Robinson shared. “People were running on the field and people were hugging me. I didn’t know who they were, saying ‘Good game,’ picking me up. I didn’t know what was going on.”

In a game high on drama for the announced 15,069 in attendance, a late go-ahead touchdown for the home team in the fourth quarter from Pooka Williams Jr. had to be reviewed.

After KU’s stud freshman running back showed off his juke-ability and strength to turn a short pass from Bender into a 28-yard sprint to the end zone, the ball began slipping out of Williams’ right hand after he extended it toward the goal line with two defenders closing in.

After winning his second Big 12 game as KU’s head coach, Beaty said “quite a few” nerves accompanied the review, at the 6:13 mark of the fourth quarter.

“That's the deal that, obviously, our rule is that we don't ever reach the ball, that if we have to reach the ball, we usually put it in jeopardy, and usually that happens,” Beaty said, referencing a possible fumble, though officials determined Williams’ TD stood. “He's a young guy. He's a freshman. And as unbelievable as a player he is, he's human. Fortunately for us, it stood, and I don't know exactly where everything else went. But from that standpoint, that was a big play. He made a heck of a run. I thought he did some really nice things for us today, some things that maybe people won't see unless you were really watching the tape close. He did some really good things away from the ball.”

Power Five’s constant underdogs opened the final quarter by taking their first fourth-quarter lead in a conference matchup since defeating Texas in Lawrence nearly two years ago.

Senior kicker Gabriel Rui nailed his second field goal of the afternoon on the first play of the fourth, putting KU briefly ahead, 20-17, with a 27-yarder.

The Jayhawks could have used more out of the possession, though. The offense got to start 13 yards away from the south goal line after senior KU linebacker Keith Loneker Jr. easily picked off a Michael Collins throw. But the offense picked up only 3 yards.

Collins (23 of 33 passing, 351 yards, TD, interception) would add a 3-yard rushing score to put TCU back ahead before the late-game chaos unfolded.

The Big 12’s worst football program didn’t dig itself a massive hole in either half, enabling the Jayhawks to truly compete in a conference matchup for a change.

Stops by Simmons and Corione Harris as the KU defense opened on the field in the third quarter forced TCU to go three and out.

The Jayhawks’ offense didn’t squander the newfound momentum, either. On a series highlighted by Robinson laying out to secure a 31-yard pass down the sideline from Bender on 3rd and 7, the Jayhawks benefited from a TCU facemask penalty on Vernon Scott, too, on a separate Bender-to-Robinson connection.

Bender even bounced back from a hurried misfire on a potential TD throw to Jeremiah Booker, to scramble on 3rd and goal at the 7-yard line and find Williams in the end zone, giving KU a 14-10 lead early in the third quarter.

In what proved to be a low-scoring first half, despite KU marching down the field in the game’s opening minutes for a touchdown, TCU outgained KU 279-89 in total offense. The Horned Frogs averaged 7.3 yards per play before intermission and KU just 3.1.

Bender didn’t impress in the opening half, either, going eight of 12 for 67 yards and suffering two sacks on KU’s last series of the second quarter.

But Beaty stuck with his QB, just as he did throughout the previous week’s loss at Texas Tech, and Bender finished 19 of 29 for 249 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Beaty said there was “no question” about taking Bender out in favor of one of KU’s backups.

“It wasn't their fault. It wasn't Peyton's fault,” Beaty said of some first-half struggles. “It falls on me. We kind of got out of some of the things we were doing, and it really kind of played into their hands a little bit. Even though they were things that looked good on paper, they're pretty good at what they do. So we have to do what we do.”

The game actually began as close to flawlessly as KU could hope for, upon the Horned Frogs winning the coin toss and deferring, allowing KU to receive the opening kickoff of the sunny Big 12 matinee.

KU’s offense started by humming along for a change, with the help of a TCU pass interference penalty, before calling a timeout on 1st and 10 at TCU’s 28 less than three minutes into its opening drive.

However, Kansas successfully avoided a potential stall-out.

With four consecutive rushing plays, involving three different running backs (Khalil Herbert, Dom Williams and Pooka Williams), the Jayhawks reached TCU’s 12-yard line.

After Bender hit Jeremiah Booker for a near-touchdown on an 11-yard connection, Herbert took a direct snap, which he momentarily mishandled, one yard for a TD.

For just the third time this season and first in Big 12 play, the Jayhawks scored first, with an 11-play drive that covered 75 yards.

Afterward, Dineen, who led KU with 13 total tackles, described the feeling that accompanied winning a Big 12 game.

“All the work you put in and you’re not seeing the results, you’re not seeing the results, but you keep grinding it out,” Dineen said. “To finally see the reward is pretty awesome.”

Upon moving to 6-38 as KU’s head coach and 2-30 against Big 12 competition, Beaty choked up when asked what a conference win meant to him after going without one for nearly two years.

“It means more to our kids and our fans. For me, as a coach, I don't get to live in that world. I get to live in the job at hand, right? There's emotions that are attached to the people you care about, particularly the players who have taken — you know, they've taken some tough hits along the way that I'm not sure many kids can handle,” Beaty said.

But, Beaty said, the “kids in that room” are really good men.

“I think they give you a chance. They keep coming back,” the KU coach added. “They don't let the world beat them down. They're their own men. They think their own way.”

Beaty said he’s happy for the fans and those who have invested in the program.

“I'm happy for our AD, our administrations. Anybody that's a Jayhawk in any way, I'm happy for them,” Beaty continued. “Ultimately, that's why we're here is to make the brand better and help people who love this thing be happy about it. Today, we were able to do that.”

KU plays host to Iowa State (4-3, 3-2) next Saturday.



9:24 — Khalil Herbert 1 run. Gabriel Rui kick. Eleven-play drive for 75 yards, in 5:36. (KU 7, TCU 0.)


12:49 — Jonathan Song 31 field goal. Eight-play drive for 39 yards, in 2:12. (KU 7, TCU 3.)

2:47 — Jalen Reagor 56 pass from Michael Collins. Song kick. Six-play drive for 92 yards, in 2:14. (TCU 10, KU 7.)


9:17 — Pooka Williams 7 pass from Peyton Bender. Rui kick. Eleven-play drive for 77 yards, in 4:42. (KU 14, TCU 10.)

5:36 — Collins 2 run. Song kick. Nine-play drive for 81 yards, in 3:36. (TCU 17, KU 14.)

2:28 — Rui 34 field goal. Nine-play drive for 58 yards, in 3:08. (TCU 17, KU 17.)


14:58 — Rui 27 field goal. Five-play drive for three yards, in 1:44. (KU 20, TCU 17.)

10:38 — Collins 3 run. Song kick. Eleven-play drive for 75 yards, in 4:20. (TCU 24, KU 20.)

6:13 — Williams 28 pass from Bender. Rui kick. Nine-play drive for 79 yards, in 4:19. (KU 27, TCU 24.)

0:01 — TCU team safety. (KU 27, TCU 26)


Dane Pratt 2 years, 6 months ago

We’ve got losing streaks against every team in the conference, four of which are in the double digit range. A win against any conference opponent is a big deal. I’m going to savor this one all week long.

Len Shaffer 2 years, 6 months ago

It was exciting and everyone deserves a tremendous amount of credit for pulling out the win, especially Bender (who clearly had his best game as a Jayhawk).

HOWEVER, that decision to kick the ball 10 yards after the safety was incredibly stupid and another example of how, even in victory, Beaty doesn't deserve to remain the coach. If the TCU player had done what his coach wanted and just fallen on it, the clock wouldn't have moved and TCU would have had a decent chance of making a field goal to tie the game. Thank God he tried to advance it and the clock ran out.

I'm sure I'll be accused of being a hater again, and believe me, I was tremendously excited by the victory. But despite winning this one, Beaty continues to show, in choices like that, that he's in over his head.

Len Shaffer 2 years, 6 months ago

Whoops, they obviously could have WON the game, not tied it.

Jerry Walker 2 years, 6 months ago

Whoops? Whoops? That's it?

You'll do well to remember your "incredibly stupid" blunder the next time you feel the need to criticize a player or coach's decision made in the heat of the battle...not sitting on their couch the next day.

Kevin Robert Fest 2 years, 6 months ago

Geez Jerry, lay of the caffeine, it's not THAT serious. It was a bad decision by Beaty.

Micky Baker 2 years, 6 months ago

What it came down to, really is that when Herbert got the first down, he should have just went to the ground instead of running out of bounce forcing TCU to use their second time out. The squib kick was the best choice in that scenario. It's insane, even in a win, Shaffer isn't happy. Not surprising. A few weeks ago it was about win-losses to him, then he changed the goal post again. It's his problem of not being able to swallow his pride.

Jerry Walker 2 years, 6 months ago

I'm sure Shaffer would have accepted a simple "Whoops" from Beaty if he had said "I thought we were up by 4pts when I elected to squib kick".

Micky Baker 2 years, 6 months ago

Here's the thing, it worked. Wanna give them a chance to return it by kicking it deep?

David Kelley-Wood 2 years, 6 months ago

An unbiased observation: The fact that this wasn't the lead international news story of the evening confirms #FakeNews.

Joe Joseph 2 years, 6 months ago

Is Beaty one more win away from retaining his job for another season?

Especially if it comes against K-State?

Gary McCullough 2 years, 6 months ago

After watching ISU's dismantling of TTU, I'm concerned that no points will be scored in next week's game. Our offense will be overwhelmed.

Gary Wirsig 2 years, 6 months ago

You could be right, but we all had similar thoughts about the West Virginia game, too. We will see in a few days!

Dirk Medema 2 years, 6 months ago

Our most recent B12 wins have come with coaches losing their jobs. That's real unlikely with Patterson but if we won at KSU could it drive grampa back into retirement? Didn't the last retirement coincidentally coincide with us starting to win?

Dane Pratt 2 years, 6 months ago

Doesn't look like K-State will be bowling this year and that doesn't happen often. He missed post season play the last two years before his first retirement.

Jack Hoff 2 years, 6 months ago

I would say that one thing Beaty certainly deserves credit for is the job he did with the offense that game. He fired Meachem and no doubt the Tech game was rough but I'm not sure I can remember a game where KU looked that cohesive on offense in a long while. Looked like they had a game plan, got the ball to Pooka in space and executed all game. There were also no real fluky plays, for the most part it was good execution. While the likelihood is still high for Beaty to get canned it is fair to say he set up the next coach in a much better situation than the one he inherited.

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