The game’s catharsis came exactly a year after last season’s debacle, when the Rockets defeated the Jayhawks 37-31 in double-overtime at the Glass Bowl. The Jayhawks turned the ball over six times in that game, and gave the ball away three times Saturday night, but it didn’t matter.
“I thought we played well in a lot of areas,” said Kansas Coach Mark Mangino. “I thought earlier in the game we didn’t take care of the ball, we had a couple of drops, but we overcame it. The kids persevered, they kept at it.”
Kansas started the scoring early. Using a mix of Jake Sharp runs and Reesing passes, Kansas drove the ball down to the Toledo 9 for a fourth-and-two. Reesing ran the ball for four yards and a first down, and four plays later, Scott Webb capped the 15-play 81-yard drive with a 25-yard field goal.
Kansas next got on the board when Reesing scrambled out of the pocket and hit Aqib Talib all alone at the 23-yard line. Talib outran the remaining defensive backs and catapulted over the pylon for a 58-yard touchdown, giving Kansas a 10-0 margin at the end of the first quarter.
“I saw Todd scrambling, so I scrambled, and I thought some guy was going to hit me,” Talib said. “Nobody did, so I put a move on a dude and when I felt some cats behind me, I dove. I had to get in that zone.”
Kansas scored again early in the second quarter on another long catch-and-run when Reesing connected with Marcus Henry for a 42-yard score.
Toledo put up its first points near the end of the half after Raimond Pendleton muffed a punt that Toledo recovered at the Kansas 21-yard line. On the next play, Toledo called a wide receiver reverse pass that ended with Nick Moore throwing a 21-yard touchdown to quarterback Aaron Opelt.
But the Jayhawks wouldn’t wait long to get those points back. Reesing hit on four of five passes, including a 26-yard touchdown to Dezmon Briscoe with 41 seconds left in the half.
Henry had five catches for 104 yards at halftime, and finished with seven catches for 133 yards. Briscoe, Fields and Talib added two other receiving threats, and combined for 163 yards and three touchdowns. But the receivers weren’t perfect … they had seven drops in the first half alone.
“There’s no excuses for the dropped passes and we’re not going to make any or accept any,” Mangino said. “We can’t do that and be a really good football team. But the positive is some of the guys who dropped those balls came back and made really good catches and made plays and we like to see that.”
Kansas added to its lead in the third quarter with a pair of Brandon McAnderson touchdowns, one from 26-yards out, and another from the three before Reesing threw his fourth touchdown pass, this one a 26-yarder to Dexton Fields.
Toledo added a late consolation score when DeJuane Collins ran it in from seven yards out.
Reesing finished the game 16 for 35 for 313 yards and four touchdowns. Jake Sharp rushed for 100 yards in the first half and ended with 127 yards. As a team, Kansas passed for 325 yards and rushed for 271 yards.
The defense also came to play, only allowing the score following the muffed punt. The Jayhawks have allowed just 20 points through three games this year. Perhaps more impressive, the Jayhawks finally forced multiple turnovers, including interceptions from Darrell Stuckey, John Larson and Talib. Maxwell Onyegbule also forced a fumble that Jeff Wheeler recovered.
Collins and Jalen Parmele combined for 191 yards, with Collins topping the century mark with 102 yards. Most of Collins’s tally came against the second-team defense at the end of the game. Starting quarterback Aaron Opelt finished the game 10 for 19 for 38 yards and three interceptions.
“I thought our defense was really sharp tonight,” Mangino said. “They made a lot of good plays. They got fooled on a nice call that they made in the second quarter there before the half and got a score. But our kids played well on defense.”
Mangino added that Anthony Collins didn’t start for disciplinary reasons, but Collins played most of the game.
The Jayhawks will end their non-conference schedule next week against Florida International. Game time is set for 6 p.m.
KU – Scott Webb 25 field goal, 6:01 1Q
KU – Aqib Talib 58 pass from Todd Reesing (Webb kick), 0:00 1Q
KU – Marcus Henry 42 pass from Reesing (Webb kick), 11:27 2Q
Toledo – Aaron Opelt 21 pass from Nick Moore (Alex Steigerwald kick), 1:53 2Q
KU – Dezmon Briscoe 26 pass from Reesing (Webb kick), 0:41 2Q
KU – Brandon McAnderson 26 run (Webb kick), 5:31 3Q
KU – McAnderson 3 run (Webb kick), 2:58 3Q
KU – Dexton Fields 26 pass from Todd Reesing (Webb kick), 1:45 3Q
Toledo – DaJuane Collins 7 run (Steigerwald kick), 1:53 4Q