The “hot new thing” in television right now is the World Series of Poker.
How appropriate then, that Kansas lost 31-30 in Saturday’s game of No Limit Texas Tech Hold ‘Em. Both Mark Mangino and Mike Leach are considered freewheeling gamblers in some circles of their profession, so it looked to be a close game on the felt, err, turf.
The game started, as they all do, with both teams controlling half of the chips. A small lapse in a failed punt snap resulted in a safety, with Texas Tech taking a 2-0 chip lead.
But Kansas would not be denied, scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter, the first on a John Randle 36-yard screen pass and the other on a Randle one-yard run. Texas Tech chipped right back with a 34-yard Alex Tricia field goal. At the end of the first, Kansas had a 14-5 lead.
That lead would balloon as turnovers continued for the Red Raiders. Scott Webb added a short field goal. Then, in a surprise move, Mangino outbluffed Leach, utilizing a Charles Gordon 26-yard pass to Brandon Rideau for the score and a 24-5 lead.
“It was a lot of fun,” Gordon said. “A lot of receivers don’t get to throw a pass. I was just thinking, get it close.
Kansas then upped the ante with a 20-yard scoring pass on a post route from Adam Barmann to a leaping Gordon. Afterwards the Jayhawks went for two to try and up the score to 32, instead, the attempt failed and Kansas now led 30-5.
“It was what the coaches had in our points chart for the game (to go for two in that situation),” Mangino explained.
Kansas would have liked to make it into the half with that lead, but two long passes, including a 32-yard touchdown to Trey Haverty gave the team a chance to cut closer. They also tried for two, but Sonny Cumbie’s pass fell incomplete to make the game a 30-11 halftime score.
One of the major rules in poker is that when you have the most chips, you need to exert your influence to push the other players around. Force the tempo of the table and the win should be yours.
The Jayhawks did just the opposite. Kansas seldom threw downfield in the second half, and seemed to play not to lose. Without that gambler’s edge, and with the table’s momentum starting to shift, Texas Tech began to put together a comeback that is becoming almost routine for this team. Kansas responded with 142 total second-half yards and a goose egg on the scoreboard.
First, there was Barmann pass intercepted and taken back to the six. Taurean Henderson pushed in from the one to make the score 30-18. then Cumbie hit Jarrett Hicks for a 27-yard score and the game was close again. The holder dropped the snap and was gobbled up by David McMillan. The score was 30-24.
Kansas had a chance to put the game away, but Scott Webb’s field goal bounced off the post and Texas Tech still had some life in it.
In the fourth quarter with the game on the line, both teams went all-in on what would prove to be the decisive hand. Texas Tech’s only chance would be to catch an ace in the community cards. On the flop, Henderson ran for nine yards. On the turn, Cumbie’s pass was incomplete. But on the river, third and six, Leach caught his ace. Henderson sprinted 70 yards in the blink of an eye.
Ballgame. Texas Tech had all the chips.
Cumbie threw for 356 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. Haverty finished with eight catches for 143 yards and a touchdown, while Hicks had eight for 131 and another score. Henderson rushed 17 times for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
Barmann finished 22 for 46 for 224 yards, two touchdowns and three
interceptions. Randle led the team with 50 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown while catching six passes for 59 yards and another touchdown. Rideau finished with seven catches for 69 yards and a touchdown.
Nick Reid again led the team in tackles, with 12. Gabe Toomey chipped in nine tackles, one for loss and an interception. Kevin Kane had one tackle, and Banks Floodman had none. The game’s lone sack belonged to Jermial Ashley, who has tackled quarterbacks in the backfield three times this season. But he only has two sacks. Against Tulsa, the snap fell to the ground. So although Ashleyran down quarterback James Kilian in the backfield, the sack counted instead
as a “team rush.” The two sacks are from the Toledo and Texas Tech games.
Kansas forced five turnovers, four on interceptions. The four picks were by Greg Tyree, Tony Stubbs, Toomey and Rodney Harris, who returned his 42 yards. The fumble, recovered off a fumbled punt, was scooped up by Clark McCracken.
Kansas played its “passing look” most of the game, with the three-man rush coming mostly from Tyree and McMillan on the outside and Ashley on the inside.
The pace of the game led to several substitutions. Harris said playing
defensive back against Tech’s passing attack was like being in a bar fight with a 6-foot-7 man at a bar. “You look at him and you know he’s big and can probably hit hard, but you gotta stick in there anyway and do your thing.” Harris finished with five tackles, an interception and a pass broken up.
The Jayhawks held Hicks 40 yards under his receiving average and Cumbie 100 yards under his passing average while forcing five turnovers and six punts.
But the defense still didn’t necessarily believe they played well enough towin. When asked if they did enough to win, Harris retorted, “Obviously not.”
Tyree said that the team just didn’t’ execute in the second half, period. Toomey said the mood in the locker room was “pissed off”.
Mangino was more worried about the other side of the ball, talking about the stalling second-half offense for much of his press conference. He got on the receivers for not catching the ball and Barmann for not running the game well.
But his harshest criticism was reserved for the offensive line. Mangino said there would be personnel changes because the line obviously didn’t have his mentality.
He praised the running backs, saying that all the yards gained were
through their efforts, not through any holes created by the line.
The game kicked off at 2:40 p.m. and lasted till 6:25 p.m. for a final running time of 3:45. Aiding in the long game were 99 combined passes, 10 scores, 44 first downs and 23 penalties for close to 200 yards.