“The only thing I remember about the play is that when I was coming across, I saw him shoot out and I put my head down and started sprinting as fast as I can, as hard as I can,” Stuckey said. “I was just praying, ‘Jesus, give me the strength,’ because I knew how fast he was.
“When I was closing on him, I was thinking, ‘no horsecollar rule, no horsecollar rule,” Stuckey said. “If there was no horsecollar rule, I might have had him 15 yards earlier.”
Stuckey’s hustle would be rewarded – on the next play, he chopped down running back Phillip Jackson for a four-yard loss, and on fourth down, Louisiana Tech bounced a field goal off the goalpost. What could have been a 20-7 game stayed a shutout. The Jayhawks would continue that momentum to win a game that wasn’t always pretty 29-0.
“I told the kids in the locker room a minute ago that the gutsiest play in the game of football is when a player is out in the open running for a touchdown and you’re the only guy that can make a play, and you may not have the angle you’d like to have, you have everything going against you, but yet you go down and make a play,” said Kansas Coach Mark Mangino. “…They miss a field goal, and the complexion of the game is completely changed because Darrell Stuckey chose to hustle.”
Along the way, they shut the door on an upset-minded Bulldog team that had bitten Mississippi State just a week earlier, never letting them in the ballgame.
“Any time you can defeat a good football team, shut them out, put up the kind of offensive numbers that we did today, you have to feel good,” Mangino said. “It wasn’t perfect. We still have areas that we need to work on, continue to work on, and continue to get better.”
Kansas drove the ball consistently through the game, racking up 538 yards on offense, but struggled at times to finish things off. Kansas had four possessions in the red zone in the first half, but came away with just 13 points – a touchdown pass from Reesing to Daymond Patterson and two short Jacob Branstetter field goals.
Then, in the third quarter, Kansas received a spark when Dezmon Briscoe took a slant pass from Reesing, juked a defender and broke six tackles on his way to a 48-yard touchdown and a 20-0 lead. The Stuckey play turned that spark into a fire.
The Jayhawks took the ball on their next possession, and, aided by a 44-yard catch and run by Patterson, drove to the red zone again for another short field goal. Patterson would have another big play a few minutes later when he took a short pass and outran the defense for a 39-yard touchdown. The scoreline stood for the rest of the game.
Reesing finished the game 32 of 38 for 412 yards and three touchdowns. He only had one incompletion in the second half, a pass dropped by Briscoe. In the second half, Reesing was 13 of 14 for 195 yards. Briscoe more than made up for it – he snagged seven passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Patterson caught eight balls for 130 yards and two more touchdowns, and Kerry Meier finished with nine catches for the second consecutive game. Those passes went for 71 yards.
“We have a lot of guys that are able to make plays,” Reesing said. “We’re not just looking for one guy. As you can see, we throw to a lot of different people. We have a lot of guys that can make plays, and having that depth at receiver is real big for us.”
For the second consecutive game, Kansas struggled to run the ball for a spell, leading Mangino to insert Angus Quigley into the game early in the third quarter. Quigley took advantage of the opportunity, running 15 times for 84 yards in the second half.
“I thought Angus did a lot of positive things,” Mangino said. “He still ran a bit high, his shoulder pads aren’t quite down as much as you’d like, but I thought he did a nice job of picking his way and accelerating through lanes. It’s been a long road for Angus, and no one wants to see Angus do better than we do as coaches. Maybe this is a sign of things to come for him.”
Like against Florida International, the defense was salty. The Jayhawks did allow the Bulldogs to get close twice, but both times ended with Kansas stops – once on a Chris Harris interception and the other on the missed field goal. Both the tip, and the touchdown-saving tackle came courtesy of Stuckey, who led the charge with 10 stops, including two behind the line.
The defense also hounded quarterback Taylor Bennett into 12-33 passing, and held Louisiana Tech to 2.7 yards per carry excepting the 78-yard Livas run. After ending the first half 7-10 on third down conversions, the Bulldogs were 0-6 the rest of the game.
Now, they’ll turn their attention to a showdown with South Florida, set for Tampa on Friday night.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Reesing said. “It’s something we’re looking forward to.”
- Kansas – Jacob Branstetter 28 FG, 10:38 1Q
- KU – Daymond Patterson 3 pass from Todd Reesing (Branstetter kick), 7:38 2Q
- KU – Branstetter 25 FG, 1:36 2Q
- KU – Dezmon Briscoe 48 pass from Reesing (Branstetter kick), 10:14 3Q
- KU – Branstetter 26 FG, 4:54 3Q
- KU – Patterson 39 pass from Reesing (kick missed), 1:21 3Q
• Mangino declined to give an update on Kendrick Harper’s condition, though he said he would let the media know when he had more information. Harper seemed to injure his head or neck on a tackle and was taken by stretcher to an ambulance outside the stadium.
“He’s in good care now,” Mangino said.
Isiah Barfield filled in for Harper and finished with X tackles.
• Stuckey’s speed. Mangino called Livas a “4.4 sprinter,” and said he “nine times out of 10 will outrun the angle.”
Stuckey said the fastest he’s been clocked in the 40 is also at 4.4 seconds, this offseason. When asked how fast he runs an 80-yard dash, or the approximate length of the field, Stuckey shook his head.
“I’m glad it was that long,” Stuckey said. “If it was any shorter, I might not have caught him.”
• Angus Quigley gave a sound-off on his running style.
“I’m one of those downhill runners,” he said. “I’m not going to get fancy. I’m going to do what I’m asked to do. If they want me to run downhill, that’s what I will do. I know the offense inside and out, so when the chance comes, I know what to do.
He also said he was surprised his chance came.
“I can’t tell you I saw this chance,” Quigley said. “I was amazed when Coach came to me at the end of the first half and said that I might be going in at the start of the next half. I was thinking, ‘What? I’m a fourth quarter guy, what am I doing in the third quarter?’ It was surprising to me. But if that’s what they want me to do, I’ll take them (carries) and do my best from here on out.”