Courtesy: KU Athletics
AUSTIN, Texas – Four Kansas first half turnovers, which turned in to 21 points for Texas, proved to be the deciding factor in the Jayhawks’ 42-27 loss at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday. The Longhorns converted three interceptions and a fumble recovery in the first 30 minutes of the game into three touchdowns, and the Jayhawks were unable to recover from the early deficit.
Kansas (1-9 0-7 Big 12) found itself in a hole quickly after failing to recover an onside kick attempt to open the game. Following the recovery by Texas (5-5, 4-3 Big 12), Longhorn sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele connected on a 49-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Lorenzo Joe on the game’s first play from scrimmage.
Down 7-0, Kansas was unable to get things going in its first drive, and was forced to a three-and-out and Texas took over on its own 40-yard line after the KU punt. The Jayhawk defense gave up a first down but was able to hold the Texas offense, thanks to a big third-down sack by junior linebacker Osaze Ogbebor, his second of the year.
The Jayhawks started the drive backed up into their own end zone, after the Longhorn punt was downed at the 1-yard line. Following two unsuccessful rushing attempts for no gain, Kansas was forced to pass on third-and-10. Sophomore quarterback Carter Stanleyoverthrew his target and Texas senior defensive back Antwuan Davis intercepted the pass and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown, giving the Longhorns a 14-0 lead with 8:05 remaining in the opening quarter.
Kansas bounced back from the turnover to complete a five-play, 60-yard drive in 1:38. A 15-yard run by Stanley gave the Jayhawks some momentum, and a Texas pass interference on third down extended the KU drive. On the play following the penalty, Stanley hit senior tight end Ben Johnson on a pass down the middle of the field for 20 yards to the UT 5-yard line, then found junior wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. on the left sideline for the score, pulling the Jayhawks within a touchdown, 14-7.
Texas answered the Kansas scoring drive with a five-play, 60-yard touchdown drive of its own, then intercepted another Stanley pass on the ensuing Jayhawk drive and took the interception down to the KU 9-yard line and capitalized on the second Kansas turnover with a two-play drive to score another touchdown and go up 28-7 with 1:55 remaining in the first.
The Jayhawks got a touchdown back with an impressive 12-play, 75-yard drive that ate up 3:44 of the game clock. Stanley connected on five-of-six pass attempts on the drive, including an eight-yard touchdown to freshman tight end Earl Bostick Jr., his first-career catch and touchdown.
Kansas took possession of the ball on the ensuing kickoff after freshman linebacker Kyron Johnson forced a fumble and junior wide receiver Kerr Johnson Jr. recovered at the Texas 24-yard line.
Senior kicker Gabriel Rui moved the Jayhawks three points closer with a 36-yard field goal with 12:12 remaining in the second quarter on the drive following the fumble recovery.
Kansas had an opportunity to cut into the Texas lead once again, after a missed field goal by the Longhorns gave the Jayhawks the ball at their own 27-yard line. Kansas was held to a three-and-out, but the KU defense stepped up with a stop of its own, forcing a Texas punt.
Instead of taking over possession, though, Sims muffed the punt and the Longhorns recovered on the KU 22-yard line.
With the short field position, Texas converted on two fourth-down attempts to keep the drive alive and scored on a one-yard touchdown run by sophomore wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey to give the Longhorns a 35-17 lead.
The Jayhawks took over with 4:49 remaining in the first half and drove down the field to the Texas 4-yard line, but Stanley threw his third interception of the game in the back of the end zone and Texas ran out the clock to go into the half with the 18-point lead.
The scoring slowed in the second half after both teams came up empty in their first possessions of the third quarter, but Kansas picked up three points to bring the game within 15 thanks to a 32-yard field goal by Rui.
KU’s defense forced a turnover on downs and a three-and-out in its next two appearances on the field, but the Kansas offense also came up blank with three-and-outs on its following two possessions.
With the Texas offense back on the field, the Jayhawks held for yet another stop, this time an interception from sophomore cornerback Hasan Defense, his second interception of the season.
After taking over down 15 with 12:07 remaining in the game, the Jayhawks elected to try to convert a fourth down at the Texas 29-yard line, but the Longhorn defense sniffed out a run to the left to make the stop and take possession.
Texas orchestrated a drive that ate up 5:02 of the game clock with 12 plays, moving 68 yards down field and scoring on a one-yard run by junior running back Chris Warren III to go up by 22, 42-20.
The Jayhawks were forced to punt on their ensuing possession, but the Kansas defense forced a three-and-out to put its offense back on the field with 1:30 remaining in the game.
Stanley led the Jayhawks down the field, with a rush of 16 yards and going 4-of-5 in the air. The Vero Beach, Florida native was able to find sophomore wide receiver Chase Harrell down the left sideline for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 11 seconds left to make the score 42-27.
The touchdown was too little, too late, however as the Jayhawks couldn’t recover an onside kick and Texas ran out the clock to give Kansas its ninth-straight loss.
Stanley finished the game with 268 yards on 27-of-43 passing and picked up 43 yards on the ground as the Jayhawks’ leading rusher. Sophomore wide receiver Evan Fairs caught seven passes for a career-high 104 yards to lead KU receivers, and Sims caught nine passes for 53 yards. Defensively, junior safety Tyrone Miller Jr. and junior linebacker Keith Loneker Jr. led the Jayhawks with 10 stops a piece, with Loneker picking up a career-high 2.0 sacks along the way.
Kansas will return to the gridiron on November 18 to host Oklahoma for the final home game of 2017. Kickoff and television coverage for the tilt between the Jayhawks and Sooners has not yet been announced.
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