Austin, Texas — Les Miles didn’t shake up his coaching staff in the middle of the season to play it conservatively with a chance to knock off a top-15 ranked Texas team on the road.
And even though the Mad Hatter and the Jayhawks opted for heroics, the Longhorns dashed those chances with no time left, as Cameron Dicker’s 33-yard field goal sent KU back to Lawrence with a 50-48 loss.
The Jayhawks nearly delivered Miles his first marquee victory in a white KU football cap Saturday night at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, with a clutch 2-point conversion on a pass from Carter Stanley to Daylon Charlot making it seem possible.
Down 7 with only 2:47 left in the game, the KU offense, coached by new coordinator Brent Dearmon for the first time, went 75 yards in 1:36, as Stanley’s fourth passing TD of the game, and second to Stephon Robinson Jr., got KU within 1 on the scoreboard.
Instead of tying the game up with an extra point, the Jayhawks went for 2 and some glory, as the program looked to secure its first ever win in Austin.
During a drama-filled debut for new offensive coordinator Dearmon and all of the Jayhawks, in front of an announced crowd of 97,137, KU’s defense made sure to share the spotlight.
A forced fumble by Mike Lee and an interception by Najee Stevens-McKenzie — both in the fourth quarter — meant the Longhorns couldn’t coast to a win in crunch time.
KU even overcame a dire extra point debacle to tie the game up at 40 with less than five minutes left in the fourth, before nearly pulling off the upset in the final stages of a wild college football battle.
The No. 15 Longhorns (5-2 overall, 3-1 Big 12) finally escaped with a five-play, 65-yard touchdown drive, crossing the goal line on a Keaontay Ingram 3-yard rush with 2:47 left.
While the No. 15 Longhorns (5-2 overall, 3-1 Big 12) spent most of the night unable to put away the Jayhawks, (2-5 overall, 0-4 Big 12), the three-touchdown favorite finally got the job done when the clock read 0:00.
Liam Jones’ fourth-quarter field goal from 46 yards with 6:56 to play revived KU. And receiver Andrew Parchment sent the Jayhawks’ sideline into a frenzy with an 11-yard touchdown snag with 4:25 left — two plays after KU’s first fourth-down conversion of the season on an incredible Charlot catch.
KU’s chances at the marquee upset victory suffered a crushing blow when both teams scored at the 10:06 mark of the fourth quarter.
Poised to tie the game up at 31 after what appeared to be an opportune Stevens-McKenzie interception early in the fourth, disaster struck for the Jayhawks on an extra point.
Pooka Williams Jr.’s second rushing touchdown of the night was still fresh on the scoreboard when Texas defensive end Malcolm Roach blew up the notion of a tied game, easily swatting Liam Jones’ would-be tying extra point out of the air.
What could have been just a momentary setback turned into a momentum-swinging scoring chance for the UT special teams, as D’Shawn Jamison secured the loose football and took off for a 98-yard play, extending the Longhorns’ lead to 33-30.
With the Longhorns still riding the wave of the extraordinary special teams snafu for Kansas, the UT offense made sure to bury the Jayhawks as best they could.
One minute and 34 seconds after the Jayhawks thought they had tied it up, Sam Ehlinger found Devin Duvernay open deep down the field for a 43-yard touchdown, setting the Longhorns up for a 40-30 lead.
An untimely development, Kansas punted on consecutive series for the first time all night in the second half, after opening the third quarter with an eye-opening TD drive.
Down seven with 14:01 left on the fourth quarter clock, KU needed a scoring response to Texas. Instead, the offense only mustered 23 yards on eight plays.
KU got to open the second half on offense and Dearmon, Stanley, Williams and company made sure to take advantage.
A 3rd and 10 completion from Stanley to Daylon Charlot helped to avoid a punt early in what turned into a 14-play touchdown drive for the Jayhawks. KU’s senior QB also hit Kwamie Lassiter II and Andrew Parchment for 1st downs on the series, before capping it with a nine-yard strike to Stephon Robinson in the end zone, setting up a 24-21 lead for Kansas.
It took veteran Texas QB Sam Ehlinger and the Longhorns fewer than three minutes to at least tie the game up, even though they couldn’t take back the lead on a nine-play drive that concluded with a successful 39-yard Cameron Dicker field goal, two plays after KU linebacker Jay Dineen delivered a timely sack on 2nd and 10.
However, KU’s second offensive possession of the second half only yielded one first down and 15 yards, meaning the Jayhawks needed punter Kyle Thompson to boot the ball away for his second punt of the night.
Failing to keep pace on that series quickly caught up with the Jayhawks. With a 4th and 2 conversion by Texas running back Roschon Johnson keying another Longhorns TD drive, KU found itself in a 31-24 deficit less than a minute into the fourth quarter, after receiver Devin Duvernay took a pass from Ehlinger in for a 14-yard score.
KU didn’t call upon punter Thompson until the final minutes of the second quarter. The Jayhawks’ first four possessions ended with either a field goal try or a touchdown, as the underdogs, coming off a bye week, seemed ready for the challenge of taking on a top-15 team on the road.
Williams had 129 rushing yards by halftime — and would have had 32 more and a second rushing score, too, had he not stepped out of bounds on what appeared to be a TD in the second quarter.
With the offense averaging 7.5 yards per play in the first half, KU had a shot at heading to intermission down just a point, despite of falling behind by 14 in the first quarter.
UT linebacker Joseph Ossai sped through a gap in KU’s protection up front, allowing him to easily block a 37-yard field goal attempt from Jones.
A bad snap on 4th & 2 for UT at midfield helped the Jayhawks’ defense get off the field unscathed for the first time all night. Receiver Jake Smith took the low snap but was stopped by Azur Kamara, giving the Jayhawks, down 14-0 at the time, something about which to feel good.
The Longhorns’ offense opened the night gashing KU’s defense and setting the stage for a possible Texas rout. The Jayhawks trailed before the Dearmon-led offense even got on the field.
It only took Sam Ehlinger and the burnt orange offense six plays to travel 65 yards for a touchdown after KU’s opening kickoff from Liam Jones sailed out of bounds, to the left.
KU couldn’t match the home team on its debut drive under Dearmon, and after a Jones field goal missed, Texas jumped ahead 14-0.
KU returns to Lawrence next week to play host to Texas Tech (3-4, 1-3).
12:56 — Roschon Johnson 14 run. Cameron Dicker kick. Six-play drive for 65 yards, in 2:04. (UT 7, KU 0.)
6:31 — Jake Smith 10 pass from Sam Ehlinger. Dicker kick. Ten-play drive for 72 yards, in 3:25. (UT 14, KU 0.)
4:01 — Liam Jones 23 field goal. Six-play drive for 74 yards, in 2:25. (UT 14, KU 3.)
13:24 — Pooka Williams 7 run. Jones kick. Nine-play drive for 50 yards, in 3:17. (UT 14, KU 10.)
8:38 — Takulve Williams 7 pass from Carter Stanley. Jones kick. Four-play drive for 60 yards, in 1:47. (KU 17, UT 14.)
2:19 — Brennan Eagles 5 pass from Ehlinger. Dicker kick. Ten-play drive for 84 yards, in 2:51. (UT 21, KU 17.)
9:48 — Stephon Robinson 9 pass from Stanley. Jones kick. Fourteen-play drive for 75 yards, in 5:12. (KU 24, UT 21.)
6:59 — Dicker 39 field goal. Nine-play drive for 54 yards, in 2:49. (KU 24, UT 24.)
14:01 — Devin Duvernay 14 pass from Ehlinger. Dicker kick. Twelve-play drive for 79 yards, in 4:41. (UT 31, KU 24.)
10:06 — Williams 16 run. Jones kick blocked. One-play drive for 16 yards, in 0:08. (UT 31, KU 30.)
10:06 — D’Shawn Jamison 98 blocked kick return. (UT 33, KU 30.)
8:32 — Duvernay 43 pass from Ehlinger. Dicker kick. Four-play drive for 65 yards, in 1:34. (UT 40, KU 30.)
6:56 — Jones 46 field goal. Seven-play drive for 47 yards, in 1:29. (UT 40, KU 33.)
4:25 — Andrew Parchment 11 pass from Stanley. Jones kick. Six-play drive for 36 yards, in 1:54. (UT 40, KU 40.)
02:47 — Keaontay Ingram 3 rush. Dicker kick good. Five-play drive for 65 yards, in 1:38. (UT 47, KU 40)
1:11 — Stephon Robinson 22 pass from Stanley. Two-point pass from Stanley to Daylon Charlot GOOD. Eight-play drive for 75 yards, in 1:36. (KU 48, UT 47)
0:00 — Cameron Dicker 33 field goal. 10-play drive for 60 yards, in 1:11. (UT 50, Kansas 48)