DURHAM, N.C. – First-quarter woes doomed the Kansas football team as the Jayhawks fell to Duke, 41-3, Saturday evening inside Wallace Wade Stadium.
En route to holding Duke All-American wide receiver Jamison Crowder to two receptions for 14 yards – the fewest for the senior since 2012 – KU senior linebacker Ben Heeney tied his career-high with 15 stops and one tackle for loss, the 13th double-digit tackling performance of his tenure.
The Jayhawks (1-1) finished the game with 297 yards of offense, with running backs Corey Avery and De’Andre Mann paving the way with 87- and 65-yard performances, respectively. Sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart broke a career-long 36-yard rush and attempted a career-high 27 passes, but the KU aerial attack dwindled with just 89 yards in the game.
However, missed opportunities along with first-half turnovers, ended up haunting the Jayhawk offense, as the squad failed to punch one in the endzone on the first road trip of the season. Kansas instead settled for a first-quarter 34-yard field goal off of the foot of sophomore kicker Matthew Wyman for its only points of the day.
Contrary to Kansas, the Blue Devil offense wasted no time getting points on the board, exploding in the first quarter with 17 points on three-consecutive drives. Quarterback Anthony Boone connected on two touchdown passes, while Ross Martin booted a 20-yard field goal. However, the Duke offense struggled to regain form late in the first half and into the third quarter thanks to the leg of senior punter Trevor Pardula.
Pardula booted eight punts on the day for an average of 51.8 yards with two punts traveling over 70 yards (72, 70). He finished the contest with four kicks over the 50-yard mark and pinned two inside the 20 yard line.
The Jayhawk defense rallied behind the work of their senior punter, after allowing 154 yards and 17 points on three drives, KU stuffed the Duke offense for a three-and-out with 1:41 left in the first quarter. Kansas followed suit to open the second period, holding the Blue Devils to another three-and-out.
With consecutive stops, the offense looked primed to move the ball and close the gap, but the second interception by Cozart doomed Kansas and gifted Duke with adequate field position to tack on three more points, 20-3, to end the first half.
The second half opened with the Jayhawks forcing the Blue Devils to a punt, but once again, the lack of rhythm by the KU offense gave the ball right back by way of a 70-yard boot by Pardula.
KU’s defense wasn’t able to hold Duke any longer after the offense sputtered. Eight plays and 80 yards later, the Blue Devils found the endzone once again this time Boone connected with wide receiver Max McCaffrey for 10 yards with 5:23 left in the third quarter, 27-3.
With the contest long-sense decided, Duke tacked on another quick seven points, even after Pardula knocked Duke deep in its own territory again by way of a 72-yard punt. It was running back Shaun Wilson who burst 68 yards through the line of scrimmage, extending the lead once more, 34-3.
The Blue Devils tacked on their final points of the game when Wilson rushed 45 yards with 3:57 left in the game for his third touchdown on the night, 41-3.
The Jayhawks return home to Memorial Stadium as Kansas plays host to Central Michigan Saturday, September 20. Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m., and can be seen on FOX Sports Net regional networks.