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West Virginia defeats Kansas, 29-24

  • 3:30 p.m., Sept. 21, 2019
  • David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, KS

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Despite valiant effort, Jayhawks fall short against Mountaineers

Kansas head coach Les Miles heads into the huddle with his team during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach Les Miles heads into the huddle with his team during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

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The desperation play that ended 12 yards shy of the end zone could have given the downtrodden Kansas football program a victory in its Big 12 opener.

Those of the 35,816 in attendance who stuck it out until the end were so inspired to see the Jayhawks compete that most of the fans who saw it happen delivered a standing ovation to the KU players and coaches as they walked off the field Saturday at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

And while quarterback Carter Stanley and his teammates obviously appreciated the gesture, following a 29-24 West Virginia victory it became clear this group of Jayhawks aren’t into patting themselves on the backs for narrow defeats.

Les Miles loved what he saw out of his offense, defense and special teams late in the second half and all.

“But we’ve got to be better,” Miles said. “Frankly, you hate to give away opportunities at victory.”

The improbable final play, when the Jayhawks (2-2 overall, 0-1 Big 12) had two seconds left and 52 yards between them in the end zone, covered 40 yards. Stanley hit an open Daylon Charlot, and the receiver immediately pitched a lateral to a sprinting Andrew Parchment. The play didn’t end until Parchment tried pitching it to Pooka Williams, who was knocked out of bounds.

Moments later, as the Jayhawks tried to digest what they had experienced, they could see the fans’ appreciation for their efforts.

“I think they see the fight,” Stanley said, after going 19-for25, with 275 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and one lost fumble. “I’m not into moral victories at all. But I think they see the progress.”

Emotional about coming up short, the QB’s interception early in the fourth quarter led to a West Virginia touchdown drive and a 29-17 deficit for KU.

“It was tough,” Stanley said of seeing WVU cornerback Keith Washington II leap up and get his hands on the throw down the sideline, before hauling it in on his way to the turf. “That hurt.”

Even so, the Jayhawks bounced back, responding with a 10-play TD drive of their own that took just 2:49 of precious fourth quarter game clock.

After safety Bryce Torneden, linebackers Gavin Potter and Najee Stevens-McKenzie and defensive end Darrius Moragne gave the KU defense the tackles it needed to give the offense one last prayer, Stanley and company nearly pulled it off.

“I’m proud of our guys with the way they fought ’til the end, ’til the clock hit zero,” Stanley said. “But that’s what this team is. We’re never going to give up. Our coaches called great plays down the stretch to get us in those situations. There’s more I’ve got to do. There’s more this team has to do to win games.”

Following a mundane, punt-filled first half, a tight conference opener got interesting in the third quarter. Even though KU’s first series concluded with a Liam Jones 23-yard field goal, that’s when the real fun began.

Miles elected to go for an onside kick trailing, 17-10. It worked, too. Or so it seemed.

Freshman Jacob Borcila lightly lofted the attempt about 12 yards down the field, along the right sideline. Redshirt freshman Jamahl Horne stole the ball away from WVU, too. However, Horne got flagged for kick-catch interference.

“They interpreted the rule,” Miles said after the loss of the explanation he received from the officiating crew, “as if (the Mountaineers) have the opportunity, we have to give them the opportunity to catch it. When we kicked it we thought they would have a very difficult time getting to the ball. … That was the ugliness.”

Even though WVU (3-1, 1-0) began its series on KU’s 31-yard line as a result, KU’s defense responded with a three-and-out, capped by a Codey Cole tackle and celebratory dance. The Mountaineers settled for a 44-yard Evan Staley field goal that gave them a 20-10 lead.

But the next play from scrimmage turned out to be a one-play touchdown drive for Kansas, as Stanley connected with Parchment (five receptions, 132 yards, two touchdowns), who was too fast to be caught.

Miles said he thought throughout the second half that KU would ultimately win. The players, such as Hasan Defense, said that resonated on the home team’s sideline.

“Our coaches kept our heads up,” Defense said. “People wanted to get down. But no on e let it happen. From players to coaches we all stayed up. We all stayed together. We rallied together even more. And as the offense went out on their last possession we all had that feeling like ‘we’re going to win this.’”

Of course, that ultimately wasn’t the case.

KU had a chance to take its first lead of the afternoon in the final minutes of the first half. A Caleb Sampson sack for the KU defense on 3rd and 11 set the Jayhawks up with ideal field position, at their own 44-yard line, with 2:07 left in the second quarter.

But after a one-yard run for Khalil Herbert (seven carries, 27 yards) and a minimal gain on a pass to Williams (15 rushes, 76 yards) to open the series, WVU linebacker Dylan Tonkery sacked Stanley. KU had to punt for the fifth time in the first half.

WVU's drive began with 0:49 left on the second quarter clock. Still, the Mountaineers got down the field for a last-second field goal and take a 10-7 lead into halftime, as Staley hit from 37 yards, ricocheting his kick in off the right upright.

“They made plays,” Miles said of WVU’s defense mostly stifling KU in the first half. “I mean I have to be honest with you, I didn't expect them to be that good, and they made plays, and I think our defense was on the field in the first half just seemingly forever. And so I feel like, you know, that was significant certainly.”

A 19-yard run by Stanley on what had all the makings of a sack in the opening minutes of the second quarter bolstered the offense — if only momentarily — after KU had to punt on each of its first three possessions.

Three plays after Stanley’s magic act, he found a wide open Stephon Robinson on the west sideline for a gain of 13 yards. That put the QB in a rhythm and his next toss hit Kwamie Lassiter II in stride, allowing the junior receiver to win a foot race to the goal line and score a 28-yard touchdown and set up a 7-7 tie with 12:06 left in the second quarter.

After 125 yards of offense and only five first downs in the first half, KU regrouped down the stretch, finishing with 417 total yards and averaging 7.4 yards per play.

Though disappointed in the loss, Stanley said he could see progress.

“A lot of it is how dedicated these guys are,” Stanley said. “The coaches, players, everybody comes to work everyday and we get to work. We have one goal for each week and that’s to go 1-0. It’ll be the same starting now with TCU. We’ve got to have a great week. And I’m fired up.”

KU plays at TCU next Saturday.

Comments

Jeff Kallmeyer 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Defenses stack the box when they don't respect the quarterback's arm. This works against KU, CC did the same thing. Poor play calling by OC Koennig was the main reason for the defeat. 2nd and one when we have momentum in the 4th quarter and Koennig calls for a medium length pass (which was intercepted), seriously? At one point late in the game, WVU had run 81 offensive plays to our 40!

Brett McCabe 2 months, 3 weeks ago

The pass was wide open. He wouldn’t have scored but he would have rumbled for awhile. It was a great call. I think the strong wind behind his back flattened Stanley’s ball and I think he was afraid to loft it because it might sail to the safety.

Brian Wilson 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Agree Jeff. Not as bad as in the past.....but a poorly called/coached game. But first:

So far I am really proud of KU's defense. These guys are playing hard and so far have not given up big play after big play. They continue to put together enough to stop the other team from time to time and have kept the games close and within reach. A little more toughness, and cohesiveness and we might stop the other team from having such long drives that consume time and wear us out.

And now.....56 to 85 Offensive plays....you have got to be kidding me!!! Combined with the 20 to 25 first downs, which isn't so bad, means we had bigger plays.....and when you look at the average you can see that....4.7 rushing average to their 4.0 and our 14.7 per completion verses 8.1 is not too bad. IMO, What this shows is we lost on intangibles....not doing well on 1st & 2nd downs, falling short after being penalized, poor play calling and falling short on critical 3rd downs. It appears the offense is having issues sustaining drives due to minor stuff that can be tweaked and minimized through coaching. And, at 14.7 per completion, maybe we should be throwing the ball just a little bit more....because with that kind of average the result is a no brainer and plus.....and Yes, they are stacking the box on us..... RCJHGKU we have some work to do.

Micky Baker 2 months, 3 weeks ago

We didn't have that many penalties, maybe none on our offense. The first half really hurt. We did poorly on 1st and 2nd down and had only 5 first downs in the first half. We had chances to get first downs on 3rd and longs but came up just a yard or even less short. I'm not sure if the receivers just didn't take the route out long enough or just wasn't able to break a tackle. WVU stacked the box on us all first half, and we could have had a hay day on underneath passes because the linebackers and the safeties were not going to let Pooka or Herbert beat 'em. We should have taken advantage of that, because we probably could have put another couple of scores on the board in the first half, then WVU would have no choice to back off and the running backs would have had a hayday in the second half. But these guys are getting better overall. It is a new offense as well. It's just too bad for these seniors that they had to change so many times. But Miles' offensive coaching staff is taking it in the right direction.

Brett McCabe 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Better per rush average. Better per pass average. Better total yards. And you guys are complaining about the offensive play-calling?

They are grinding. We are competing and getting better. No team is perfect but calling out the “play calling” is the worst, oldest, laziest and lamest Monday-morning quarterbacking in all of football.

Micky Baker 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree with that. I don't think that the play calling was that bad. The guys didn't execute very well in the first half. I think also that maybe Carter was confused by WVUs front at times and misread when he should have kept the ball and thrown it or run the ball himself. If they're gonna put 7 in the box, dump it right over their heads, but that is a decision the QB makes, and he wasn't really give that many chances to make those choices until this year.

Brian Wilson 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm not sure about that. Everything is up for comment. Assuming two teams having identical players, all things being perfect, each side should win the battle in the trenches 50% of the time. After that is comes down to play calling.

Falling short after penalties doesn't say we had a lot of penalties, it says that when we get called for holding and it's 3rd and 15 we then fall short with a 12 yard pass and have to punt. Please read and understand. We only 4 penalties but KU in general did not respond well in the hole.

Micky is correct, we could of had a hay day passing the ball with the box full. That comes down to coaches recognizing what is happening to their team during the game. Whats worse lame and lazy is not looking at all aspects of a game that you lost. Everything should be on the table when you analyze what you can do better. After all the largest room in the world is the room for improvement.

I will say this......this game was coached and managed much better than the CC game and each week the team and coaches are making progress.

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