Turnover-plagued 1st half dooms Jayhawks in home loss to Coastal Carolina

Coastal Carolina cornerback Derick Bush (23) is called for pass interference against Kansas wide receiver Andrew Parchment (4) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Coastal Carolina defeated Kansas 38-23. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Coastal Carolina cornerback Derick Bush (23) is called for pass interference against Kansas wide receiver Andrew Parchment (4) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Coastal Carolina defeated Kansas 38-23. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Sunday, September 13, 2020

The raw emotions of a discouraging loss in the season’s opener couldn’t be masked by Kansas senior receiver Andrew Parchment late Saturday night.

Still feeling the brunt of the Jayhawks’ home loss to Coastal Carolina — for the second year in a row — Parchment told reporters during his postgame video press conference he felt “like a loser” in the aftermath of a 38-23 defeat.

“I feel like I let my teammates down,” Parchment went on. “I feel like I let the University of Kansas down. I felt like I left my family down. I’ve just got to come back to work on Monday.”

The Jayhawks (0-1) lost in front of an empty David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium because of more than just one player, of course.

Early on in the late night debut, they even looked overwhelmed against the Chanticleers. But head coach Les Miles said after the opener his team was adequately prepared.

“I think we came into the stadium with the right mindset,” Miles said, “the issue being you can’t turn the ball over. You turn the ball over like that you’re not going to win games.”

Any momentum that materialized due to the surge of energy that comes with kicking off the season began dissipating in the first quarter, thanks to the miscues Miles referenced.

Though KU’s opening drive even looked promising at first, the way it ended proved prophetic.

The team’s starting quarterback, senior Thomas MacVittie, extended the series with a 17-yard rush on 3rd-and-10 to provide the first spark. Strong runs from Pooka Williams (67 yards on 12 attempts) and Velton Gardner (81 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries) would follow, getting KU into plus territory. But on 3rd down at the CCU 34-yard line, MacVittie’s throw went through the fingers of freshman receiver Lawrence Arnold, and cornerback Derick Bush picked it off for the first of three Coastal takeaways in the first half.

The next series didn’t last nearly as long. Although MacVittie completed a couple of short throws to start it, the second completion to Takulve Williams evolved into another turnover when a CCU defender popped the ball out of Williams’ hands and Enock Makonzo recovered the fumble, setting up Coastal with a short field.

It only took the Chanticleers six snaps to go 26 yards and build a 14-0 lead before the end of the first quarter.

With the third series, Miles followed through on his statement earlier in the week to play more than one quarterback. Miles Kendrick took over, and though the series didn’t end with a giveaway, the Jayhawks only went 24 yards and had to punt following a Kendrick incompletion on 3rd and 13.

Even a solid Kyle Thompson punt fair caught at the 11-yard line couldn’t keep CCU from building to its lead, however. Redshirt freshman quarterback Grayson McCall (133 passing yards, 73 rushing yards, five total TDs) looked like a veteran against KU’s defense, leading an 89-yard scoring drive that put the Jayhawks in a massive 21-0 hole less than five minutes into the second quarter.

“When you shoot yourself in the foot and turn it over,” Kendrick said of KU’s rough start, “you lose momentum, you give teams more opportunities. I think that’s the toughest part about it. They get extra opportunities, they get good field position. That’s big.”

It would only get uglier from there before halftime. KU was so desperate for points that it attempted a 53-yard field goal from redshirt freshman Jacob Borcila that fell short to conclude MacVittie’s next series at QB.

Miles went back to Kendrick for the next possession, and although the junior QB would complete a 3rd down pass to Kwamie Lassiter II to pick up a 1st down, two plays later CCU’s Jeffrey Gunter picked off a Kendrick throw for Coastal’s third takeaway of the half.

Just as the Chants did following their first two takeaways, they made the mistakes extra costly, piling on with another easy scoring drive. CCU went up 28-0 after McCall threw his third TD pass of the half, again on a short field.

“We didn’t start fast like we should have in the first half,” Lassiter said. “That set us back. We came back in the second half and started clicking a little bit better, but if we did that in the first half it would’ve played out in a different way.”

KU didn’t score until the second quarter clock showed all zeroes. Borcila connected on a 47-yard field goal as time expired, after Kendrick completed a couple of throws to Parchment for 1st downs. The Jayhawks entered the locker room at halftime down, 28-3.

“The poor start,” Miles said, referring to CCU scoring 21 points off KU turnovers, “that knocked us out.”

In what felt like a potential swing moment early in the second half, Coastal head coach Jamey Chadwell took an assertive approach with his offense on 4th down, going for it on the Chants’ own 44-yard line with 1 yard to go. It worked as Shemari Jones ran for 2 yards. But KU at least put an end to the visitors’ first drive of the second half three plays later.

That rare defensive stop set the table for KU’s most impressive offensive possession of the evening.

KU finally scored a touchdown late in the third quarter. Oddly enough, a drive that began with MacVittie at QB for the first series of the second half had to conclude with Kendrick finding Parchment (six catches, 54 yards, one TD) in the end zone to put an exclamation point on a 15-play, 89-yard drive.

The Jayhawks already had picked up four 1st downs on the series and MacVittie (5-for-9 passing, 20 yards, one interception) had just completed a pass to Takulve Williams (seven catches, 38 yards) when Kendrick came in to replace MacVittie at QB on 4th and 5 at the CCU 14-yard line. The substitution was necessary because MacVittie had to sub out due to what appeared to be a shoulder injury.

Miles didn’t have an update on the starter’s status after the game.

As MacVittie headed toward the locker room to get checked out, Kendrick came in to throw a TD to Parchment and connect with Lassiter on the 2-point conversion, making the deficit 28-11.

“We dug ourself in a hole that we couldn’t get out of,” Parchment lamented.

The drive even gave KU some brief life in the nonconference rematch of a home loss from Week 2 of the 2019 season. The Jayhawks’ defense delivered a three-and-out and the offense remained on a roll with the ability to get right back on the field.

After Kendrick connected again with Parchment, sophomore running back Gardner shot off the edge for a 61-yard score on 1st-and-10, getting KU within striking distance, down 28-17 in the final seconds of the third quarter.

The Chants regained control, though, by opening the fourth quarter with a nine-play, 81-yard drive, finished off with McCall plunging across the goal line for his fifth total TD of the night, setting up a 35-17 advantage.

The Jayhawks’ long shot chances of a rally momentarily reemerged late in the fourth quarter following a Kendrick-led 78-yard TD drive. Borcila appeared to recover his own onside kick, emerging from a pile with the football in hand. But the officials threw a flag for offside. The re-kick didn’t provide a repeat and CCU recovered with 6:59 to play and a 35-23 cushion.

One last desperation drive for KU following a defensive three-and-out ended with Kendrick under pressure and picking up only 5 yards on a 4th-and-15 throw for Arnold.

Kendrick, too, thought the Jayhawks were prepared for their opener.

“It just came down to execution,” Kendrick said after going 15-for-24 with 145 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception in defeat.

The Jayhawks are off next week in the Big 12’s pandemic-shortened 10-game season, before opening conference play at Baylor on Sept. 26.

SCORING SUMMARY

FIRST QUARTER

6:22 — Grayson McCall 12 run. Massimo Biscardi kick. Ten-play drive for 62 yards, in 5:17. (CCU 7, KU 0.)

2:37 — C.J. Brewer 2 pass from McCall. Biscardi kick. Six-play drive for 26 yards, in 2:58. (CCU 14, KU 0.)

SECOND QUARTER

10:57 — Isaiah Likely 2 pass from McCall. Biscardi kick. Seven-play drive for 89 yards, in 3:07. (CCU 21, KU 0.)

0:55 — Jaivon Heiligh 25 pass from McCall, Biscardi kick. Four-play drive for 36 yards, in 1:15. (CCU 28, KU 0.)

0:00 — Jacob Borcila 47 field goal. Seven-play drive for 29 yards, in 0:49. (CCU 28, KU 3.)

THIRD QUARTER

2:29 — Andrew Parchment 14 pass from Miles Kendrick, PAT Kwamie Lassiter II pass from Kendrick. Fifteen-play drive for 89 yards, in 8:12. (CCU 28, KU 11.)

0:04 — Velton Gardner 61 run. Kendrick pass failed. Three-play drive for 72 yards, in 1:09. (CCU 28, KU 17.)

FOURTH QUARTER

9:55 — McCall 2 run. Biscardi kick. Nine-play drive for 81 yards, in 5:05. (CCU 35, KU 17.)

7:00 — Lassiter 5 pass from Kendrick. Kendrick pass failed. Nine-play drive for 78 yards, in 2:47. (CCU 35, KU 23.)

1:13 — Biscardi 27 field goal. Seven-play drive for 4 yards, in 3:16. (CCU 38, KU 23.)

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