Oklahoma defeats Kansas, 35-23

  • 11 a.m., Oct. 23, 2021
  • David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, KS

Saturday, October 23, 2021

No. 3 Oklahoma rallies for 35-23 road win over KU football

Oklahoma running back Kennedy Brooks, center, hands the ball off to quarterback Caleb Williams, left, as he is being tackled by Kansas linebacker Rich Miller during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in Lawrence, Kan. Oklahoma won 35-23. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Oklahoma running back Kennedy Brooks, center, hands the ball off to quarterback Caleb Williams, left, as he is being tackled by Kansas linebacker Rich Miller during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in Lawrence, Kan. Oklahoma won 35-23. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)


An upset bid for the long struggling Kansas football program came with a dose of fourth quarter drama before No. 3 Oklahoma got out of David Booth Kansas Stadium with a 35-23 victory on Saturday.

After going scoreless in the first half, the Sooners had to rally and convert a bizarre fourth down late in the game to head back to Norman, Okla., with their undefeated record intact.

The Sooners (8-0 overall, 5-0 Big 12) put together their fifth consecutive touchdown drive of the second half half in the game’s final minutes to complete their comeback road win. The 12-play drive that took more than five minutes off the clock, and by the time Kennedy Brooks ran in for 4-yard TD with 42 seconds left, KU was down two scores without enough time to battle back in front of an announced crowd of 26,321.

Brooks (24 carries, 79 yards, two TDs) got the chance to seal the road win because of an unplanned handoff of sorts a few plays earlier. Brooks was all but stopped in the backfield on a fourth-and-1 rush attempt from OU’s own 46-yard line in the game’s final minutes. But as he spun and tried to keep his progress going, OU’s quarterback, Caleb Williams, came over and took the ball out of Brooks’ hands before Brooks was ruled down. The QB then picked up enough yardage for the first down.

The officiating crew ruled it was a legal handoff behind the line of scrimmage.

KU head coach Lance Leipold was asked following the loss whether he thought his team was “robbed” of having a chance to go down the field and win (KU trailed 28-23 at the time of the strange fourth down play).

“I’m not going to comment on that right now,” Leipold replied. “Those are tough calls on (forward) progress and that. I’d have to take another look at it.”

While KU’s head coach described himself as “enthusiastic” with officials at times during games, he said he understands when calls and explanations are made.

“We’ve just got to find ways to make plays,” Leipold added.

After the game, the Big 12’s coordinator of officials, Greg Burks, provided further explanation of the fourth-and-1 play via a released statement.

“The reviewable aspects of the play were position of the ball in relation to the line of scrimmage, and if possession was ever lost by the offense. The ball never crossed the line of scrimmage and there was never a loss of possession, not a fumble, so this play was a forward handoff behind the line of scrimmage,” Burks said.

The action, Burks said, is allowed under Rule 7- 6-a, which states an offensive back, “may hand the ball forward to another back only if both are behind their scrimmage line and the player handing the ball forward has not had their entire body beyond the neutral zone."

Leipold said after the Jayhawks’ sixth consecutive loss he thought in the moment that the Jayhawks had delivered a fourth-down stop.

“I don’t know completely if forward progress had been stopped. He kind of bounced back as it was going. (The) guy didn’t really hand it. The quarterback just kind of took it away from him. It was a very heady play,” Leipold added.

“I didn’t know if it was considered a pass or a handoff,” he continued, “so I asked if there were men downfield. They said it was a handoff.”

As KU (1-6 overall, 0-4 Big 12) tried to respond to OU’s first go-ahead TD, earlier in the fourth quarter, a promising drive ended abruptly when Key Lawrence stripped Steven McBride after the KU receiver caught a pass from quarterback Jason Bean. Justin Broiles recovered it and the Sooners were able to start their next series in plus territory.

On fourth-and-3 at the KU 40, Williams broke two tackles and was gone before the Jayhawks could do anything about it. The clutch 40-yard TD helped OU extend its lead to 28-17.

Though the Jayhawks answered with a TD drive, and Bean hit Luke Grimm in the end zone for a 14-yard score, that would be KU’s final trip across the gaol line, with 5:56 remaining.

The Sooners’ defense finally got the Jayhawks to punt on KU's sixth possession of the day, with 14:14 left in the fourth quarter. And OU immediately capitalized, taking the lead for good on the ensuing series, a four-play, 48-yard TD drive.

A 1-yard score by Brooks the Sooners their first lead of the day with 12:35 left in the fourth quarter.

A 66-yard reverse for Trevon West to open OU’s second possession of the second half immediately put the Sooners in scoring position, answering a KU TD drive. Two plays later, Williams (15-for-20, 178 yards, two TDs, one interception) found Jeremiah Hall for an 8-yard TD and the Jayhawks’ brief 10-point lead late in the third quarter was down to 17-14 before the fourth quarter even began.

The Jayhawks’ offense didn’t let the revived Sooners deter them when Bean and company took the field for the first time in the third quarter. A third-and-3 conversion from KU’s 48-yard line proved critical on what evolved into a 10-play scoring drive. After faking a handoff to Torry Locklin, who came in motion, Bean hit Lawrence Arnold down the field for a 22-yard gain. A 20-yard catch for Steven McBride on the next snap helped the Jayhawks out even more.

After KU got down into goal-to-go territory, the Jayhawks didn’t settle for a field goal. Bean handed the ball off to freshman running back Devin Neal for a 1-yard TD on fourth down, and KU extended its margin to 17-7 with 1:30 left in the third quarter.

Though the Jayhawks ultimately fell, Neal said having a game come down to the final minutes was “super exciting” for the Jayhawks, who had been blown out in their previous three Big 12 losses.

“We fought hard. And you live for games like that,” said Neal, who rushed for 100 yards on 23 carries on a day the Jayhawks put up 412 yards of total offense. “A couple plays on our side just go the wrong way.”

It wasn’t until the 7:57 mark of the third quarter that the vaunted Sooners offense (398 yards on the day) got into the end zone versus a KU defense that had struggled all season. OU regrouped at halftime following its disastrous first two quarters, and Williams, the Sooners’ true freshman QB, led a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. His 5-yard pass to Jadon Haselwood trimmed KU’s lead to 10-7.

The Jayhawks’ coaches couldn’t have scripted a much more perfect first half against Big 12 powerhouse Oklahoma. The Sooners’ offense, after posting 50-plus points each of the past two weeks against Texas and TCU, could barely stay on the field, let alone score, during the first two quarters.

KU’s defense forced a punt, picked off a Williams pass attempt — courtesy of super-senior safety Ricky Thomas — and came away with a turnover downs in the first half, when OU gained only 78 yards of offense on 17 plays.

Thomas said holding OU scoreless in the first half made the KU defense proud.

“All we did was what our coaches told us to do — don’t worry about who the opponent is, just line up and play hard and play physical. And that’s what we did to the end,” Thomas said.

With a surprising 10-0 halftime lead over the heavily favored Sooners, KU became the first team to shut out OU in the first half during Lincoln Riley’s five seasons at the head coach. The Sooners hadn’t gone scoreless for an entire first half since facing Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl, in December of 2014.

On what turned out to be one of OU’s best chances to get on the scoreboard before halftime, the Sooners went for it on fourth-and-6 from KU’s 33-yard line with just more than a minute left in the first half. But as Williams improvised and tried to lead Eric Gray to the end zone, the pass went incomplete.

That nine-play, 28-yard drive was actually the Sooners’ best series of the first two quarters.

The OU offense didn’t begin its third possession until there was 5:32 left in the first half. Before that, the Sooners only ran eight plays for 25 yards, as KU built a 10-0 lead.

The Jayhawks looked to put OU in an even larger hole on their third possession, which was keyed by a Bean completion under pressure to Arnold on third-and-long. But a 57-yard field goal try by Jacob Borcila missed wide left.

The Sooners got into a rut offensively, in large part because they spent so much of the first half on the sidelines. Both of KU’s first two drives ate up chunks of the clock. Though the underdogs’ second series ended with a 28-yard Borcila field goal and not a TD, the drive took 6:36, as KU went ahead 10-0.

After finishing 17-for-23 through the air, for 246 yards, with one TD and no interceptions, junior KU QB Bean said the successful start, which was a change for the offense compared to recent weeks, had to do with the way the Jayhawks approached the challenge.

“I think it was just our mentality, the mentality that we came in with this week,” Bean said. “Knowing this was going to be a good game for us this week, and I think just the way we prepared all week.”

The OU offense didn’t even take the field for the first time until the 5:45 mark of the first quarter, thanks to a near perfect opening drive by the KU offense. A third-and-8 conversion on the third play of the day helped KU set the tone in its upset bid. Bean’s 9-yard connection with Kwamie Lassiter II (seven catches, 101 yards) assured the Jayhawks of some momentum, and KU picked up two more third downs on the series, en route to a 14-play, 80-yard TD drive, capped by the first of Neal’s two 1-yard rushing scores on the day.

Between that methodical drive and super-senior defensive end Kyron Johnson’s crucial sack of Williams on the Sooners’ first third down of the day on their opening drive, KU was able to become the first team to shut out OU in the first quarter since Alabama did it in the 2018 Orange Bowl.

Leipold said after his team’s latest defeat that he learned while watching KU compete with OU that his team is “very resilient.”

“They’re going to compete and they’re working to get better. And there’s progress being made. We’ve got to continue to work on things for us to be able to pull games like this out in the fourth quarter,” Leipold said.

“We’ve talked a long time about getting games into the fourth quarter and finding a ay to win. We did one of the two,” the coach continued. “Again, I’m proud of them in that capacity, because a lot of people can become awful selfish and worry about their own stats or their own playing time. And I was really happy with the way our guys on the sidelines were into it, and they’re seeing progress from each other.”

The Jayhawks hit the road next week to take on Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla.



5:45 — Devin Neal 1 run. Jacob Borcila kick. Fourteen-play drive for 80 yards, in 9:11. (KU 7, OU 0.)


11:24 — Borcila 28 field goal. Twelve-play drive for 69 yards, in 6:36. (KU 10, OU 0.)


7:57 — Jadon Haselwood 5 pass from Caleb Williams. Gabe Brkic kick. Fourteen-play drive for 75 yards, in 7:03. (KU 10, OU 7.)

1:30 — Neal 1 run. Borcila kick. Ten-play drive for 75 yards, in 6:27. (KU 17, OU 7.)

0:14 — Jeremiah Hall 8 pass from Williams. Brkic kick. Three-play drive for 75 yards, in 1:16. (KU 17, OU 14.)


12:35 — Kennedy Brooks 1 run. Brkic kick. Four-play drive for 48 yards, in 1:28. (OU 21, KU 17.)

7:53 — Williams 40 run. Brkic kick. Four-play drive for 47 yards, in 1:29. (OU 28, KU 17.)

5:56 — Luke Grimm 14 pass from Jason Bean. Kwamie Lassiter run failed. Five-play drive for 75 yards, in 1:57. (OU 28, KU 23.)

0:42 — Brooks 4 run. Brkic kick. Twelve-play drive for 75 yards, in 5:14. (OU 35, KU 23.)


Matt Gauntt 1 year, 1 month ago

The guys looked really good today. Bean was the leader we needed him to be. Defense improved a lot. Yeah, a few let downs, but they worked hard. I know the team is in the right hands with HC Leipold. Keep working hard guys.

Rodney Crain 1 year, 1 month ago

You were watching the KU - OU football game right? "really good"???

David Robinett 1 year, 1 month ago

First forward hand off in history saved OU. Seriously, that was a fourth and one where we appeared to stop them and we would've had a short field and our offense was hot.

Somebody in New York had to check the rulebook to call that legal

Dale Stringer 1 year, 1 month ago

I fully believe it was the Big XII making the call to keep a team in the playoff hunt.

Armen Kurdian 1 year, 1 month ago

The forward handoff was fine, the fact that he was stopped & moving backwards when the whistle should have been blown. Remember when Mangino was coach about 13 years ago when we should have beaten TX because we stopped them on a 4th & 10 and they made a phantom PI or illegal hit call?

Brett McCabe 1 year, 1 month ago

So many close plays. We just couldn’t get over the hump. Heck of an effort! It’s got to make these guys feel better about their work and commitment. RCJHK!

Mike Morris 1 year, 1 month ago

We are headed in the right direction. Heck of an effort today. Great game plan and nearly pulled it out. As David said above...we have the right head coach! RCJH!

Dirk Medema 1 year, 1 month ago

After so many times of coming up empty during games, it hopefully is encouraging to the players while leaving them that much hungrier. It would seem that many of the things the coaches have been talking about where implemented effectively today, which should just pay off all the more moving forward. Maybe we’re starting to catch up to the coaches not being here for spring ball.

2 missed tackles on a long TD run and a goofy handoff when a fourth down was effectively stuffed is what it took for ou to pull it out. So much improvement.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 1 month ago

I would think this should help with recruiting as well. Recruits want to know there’s at least a chance of success. This should get the attention of the ones that are willing to work extra and build a winner.

Charlie Gaughn 1 year, 1 month ago

Forward progress was obviously stopped on the fourth and one. As Mangino would say: "Dollar signs". A loss would've probably killed OU's playoff hopes as well as the chance for the Big 12 to get any team in. As frustrating as that call was, you have to be super proud of the way the players hung in there for the entire game. Hope this is the type of play we can begin to expect.

Layne Pierce 1 year, 1 month ago

Announcers commented a great deal on KU using clock and running it down to last seconds before snapping. It just makes sense, and I hope we will continue to do so in the future.

What beat us today was just better athletes, and missed tackles. We had Williams on the 4th down and just missed the tackles.

Line play was much improved. That is very encouraging.


Brian Wilson 1 year, 1 month ago

No, better athletes did not just beat us. OU does have some better talent but KU has plenty of talent to do the job and is getting better because they are beggining to learn Leipold's system. The reason we lost is we made too many mistakes.

Mallory Briggans 1 year, 1 month ago

Next weeks game will determine if this weeks game was a flash in the pan .To say the game plan worked did , but it had more to do with Oklahomas poor defensive play that kept their own offense off the field . 35 second half points is not a sign of progress by the jayhawks It was great effort but its still a loss

Dale Rogers 1 year, 1 month ago

On the other hand, holding #3 to zero points in the first half, leading #3 by 10 at the half, and not being blown out by end of first quarter, IS progress for this team. It is not a win, but it IS progress. Had we been playing an unranked team today we might well have won this game.

Rodney Crain 1 year, 1 month ago

Great effort from our team. OU did not cover, and the game did not reach the Over/Under.

OU is a shadow contender for the CFP this year, they have a few weakness's.

I do not beleive in a good loss, but there are positives that coach can use to keep the team focused the rest of the way. The plan of using as much clock as possible, seemed a bit like trying to minimze their scoring, rather than giving us a chance to win the game. Lucky for us their defense was willing to play along. Kept it close for a bit but the outcome never seemed in doubt.

Len Shaffer 1 year, 1 month ago

I disagree that the outcome never seemed in doubt. If it weren't for that fluke play, KU would have had the ball in their territory with 3 minutes to go and a chance to win the game. And keep in mind, in our previous drive we had quickly passed the ball down the field for the TD. If we had gotten the stop there, things might have turned out differently.

Kyle Neuer 1 year, 1 month ago

I guess the best we can hope for, at this point, is not getting humiliated. Hoo-rah.

Spencer Goff 1 year, 1 month ago

So here is why the call pissed me off:

The forward progress was stopped, he took the ball, thus it was a fumble not a handoff. It should have been blown dead at the spot.


That isn't want really has me pissed. What does is that NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENED these idiot refs would have called it to Oklahoma's benefit.

Had our guys blasted the QB after he got it back? Roughing the QB penalty or personal foul of some kind, guaranteed. Targeting downfield, defensive holding, something, anything, their flags were ready. Some bogus call would have happened to give OU that first down.

It was expected that OU and UT would go from getting all the calls to zero calls the moment they announced their intention to leave. Yet, it is still the same garbage. Either the officials didn't get the memo, or they are hoping the OU/UT love train will move "their refs" with them to the SEC. They still get every 50/50 call and I have zero idea why.

Barry Weiss 1 year, 1 month ago

well, there was the one play where we were stopped on a fourth down, but the refs let us push through it after about 5

Spencer Goff 1 year, 1 month ago

I get what you are saying, but again, Big 12 refs are notoriously picked at for egregious calls, and 9 times out of 10, those calls benefitted OU or UT against any other team. I made the assumption, as many of us did, that those days were done. We were wrong.

They chose to let them play on, fine, but then they chose to classify it as a hand off when Jesus, Ghandi, and the entire Knights of the Round Table saw it as a strip fumble by his own teammate. My point is, no matter what happened, the refs were going to interject in that game at some point to seal the deal. New Big 12 look, same Big 12 zebras.

I can't wait until our officials have to deal with the new Euro Step rule for basketball. That should be... fun....

Dale Rogers 1 year, 1 month ago

Our guy wasn't stopped yet. He was being pushed forward. You don't call a play dead in that circumstance. You wait until there obviously can be no further forward progress and that wasn't the case in this situation.

Mallory Briggans 1 year, 1 month ago

good teams find a way to win,bad teams find away to lose . 1-11 is a strong possibility

Layne Pierce 1 year, 1 month ago


When you are as bad as we are. You start by being in games at the end. There is truly a difference between losing 45-7 and losing by 12 points, and being there at the end.

The play with the stolen ball is hilarioius. It probably has not happened in 5 years.
The 4th down play where Williams went for the touchdown, after they stripped the ball away from us, was the killing sequence.

Did you notice that with a little more ball control and a more rested defense, they did perform better.

I think we see a way to compete now, question is will we do it, consistently.


Dale Rogers 1 year, 1 month ago

I expect there will still be ups and downs, games we play better, games we don't. But the ups should become more and more frequent and the downs less so. When we play well two games in a row, I'll feel like we are really on the way even though I think it is obvious we already are on the way. Just a long way to go but after watching this game I'm hopeful that light at the end of this tunnel is not quite so far away as I thought prior to this game. After all, I expected to be totally blown out by OU.

Omari Miller 1 year, 1 month ago

Look, the refs blew the call. Not only had forward progress been stopped, but Rich Miller took Kennedy Brooks back back a few yards by the time that he ripped the ball away.

To the point that Bean’s forward progress was stopped on the earlier call, I may be recalling this through rose colored glasses, but I don’t think it actually was. He got stood up and then got a push forward. He moved slowly, but I saw the ball always moving forward. He certainly didn’t get pushed back by 3-5 yards, like Brooks.

Tough break. Still proud of the team for taking it to OU. It means another L for the ‘Hawks, but I’m hoping their performance represents a meaningful move forward forward for them.

Kit Duncan 1 year, 1 month ago

Reading between the lines, the Big XII coordinator of officials said, “The reviewable aspects of the play…” The non-reviewable aspect was the block below the waste of Kenny Logan when he was about to tackle the runner outright! Had Logan not had his legs taken out from under him, Wilson would never have had a chance to grab the ball and run. That’s the worst call of the game, right ahead of the missed holding on the 40 yard OU run that led to a touchdown. It’s possible refs missed some KU penalties, but none as damaging as those two missed calls.

Ed Noyes 1 year, 1 month ago

I am not sure that I have enough time left to observe sustained football success. But, I do believe HCLL will get us there at some point. You never know, I'm thinking we might be looking at a victory between now and season's end.

Andy Godwin 1 year, 1 month ago

The game came down to a few crucial plays and when you are a team down and trying to rebuild you need to play a near perfect game and not have the officials fail to do their jobs. You know OU fans walked out of the stadium knowing they were LUCKY to get a win (and the Big 12 officials happy based on the all mighty dollar to keep OU relevant), but clearly OU is not the #2/#3 team in the country. The secondary is terrible, and KU was able to exploit. KU had a good game plan and executed it well (I had written before that it was essential to limit OU possession and in the first half KU dominated – 22 minutes to 8 minutes time of possession). KU miscues - 1) the lost fumble was devastating; 2) the failed recovery of the OU fumble was huge and would have completely changed the game and put more doubt in the mind of the OU players starting the 2nd half, 3) the missed tackle of OU's QB in the backfield on 4 and 1 was an indication that players need to make plays and this miss allowed OU to drive and score a TD instead of a change on downs, and 4) the holding call negating Bean's touchdown in the 1st half would have added pressure to OU. Officiating miscues - 1) the horse collar on Bean was so evident it was unbelievable that none of the officials were watching the ball carrier (on OU next position 3 officials all so a face mask against KU), 2) the obvious holding call at OU's 30 that resulted in a 66 yard run and gave OU hope for the first time, and 3) the play that will be debated forever that prevented KU from having a chance to win (the whistle should have been blown when the running was stopped and pushed backwards for a 2 yard loss). Finally, the student section was almost completely empty until KU made some noise. It is embarrassing for the team to run onto the field with so few fans (students and alumni) showing their support. The only way to rebuild this program is to provide support when they are struggling. None of the recruits Leipold and his staff are trying to recruit want play in a more than half empty stadium. Don't just show up when they are winning, show up at the beginning and support the student-athletes who are taking a physical beating on behalf of your university. Rock Chalk.

Steve Davis 1 year, 1 month ago

See comments by NBC rules analyst: First, play was dead when progress was stopped. Second, ensuing play was a fumble, not a hand-off, bc the RB did not attempt to hand it off. Rather, it was taken by the QB. Offense cannot advance a fumble on 4th down. ESPN rules analyst said essentially the same. Instead of favoring short term financial interests by giving the game to OU, the Big 12 should consider at least calling the game evenly for those who are staying

Armen Kurdian 1 year, 1 month ago

I made some snide remarks about our team before the game, including my #1 key to the game which was not to show up. And I am most certainly not a fair weather fan...I bleed crimson & blue.

So here's my apology to the football team & KU fans. Great job. A game that I feel was taken away from us on a blown call regarding forward progress.

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