Jayhawks rally to defeat Longhorns in overtime, 24-21

D'Onta Foreman. (Will Gallagher/IT)
D’Onta Foreman. (Will Gallagher/IT)

WELLS/SCIPIO – Five quick thoughts

LAWRENCE, KS — Lawrence, Kansas presented multiple opportunities for the Texas Longhorns. It could have given the team a chance to get bowl eligible with a win against Kansas after missing a bowl game last year. It could have given the team momentum heading into TCU. It could have given head coach Charlie Strong a stronger argument to return to coach a fourth year at Texas.

Instead, Lawrence became a nightmare zone. Texas turned the ball over six times against a 1-9 team that had not won a conference game since 2014. Texas gave up an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter against the worst team in the Big 12. Even D’Onta Foreman’s 250-yard game on a school record 51-carries was not enough to salvage a victory, as the Jayhawks defeated the Longhorns 24-21 in overtime.

Following Foreman’s second touchdown run of the day early in the fourth quarter, Texas forced KU into a three and out. On Texas’ next possession, only Foreman ran the ball, and Kansas was able to limit him to set up its comeback.

KU responded with a long 10-play, 80-yard drive with a touchdown and a two-point conversion to pull it within three. In the fourth quarter, offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert continued to try and pound out the game with Foreman, but a Foreman fumble recovered by Kansas defenders stopped the Longhorns and gave the Jayhawks a chance to tie the game up.

“You try to put it away and end up turning it over,” Strong said after the game. “The game was over.”

Unfortunately for Strong and Texas, it was not. Kansas would tie the game on a 36-yard field goal with seven seconds left to send the game to overtime.

It only took one overtime period to end UT’s nightmare in Lawrence, as a first possession interception thrown by Buechele allowed Jayhawk kicker Matthew Wyman the chance to be the hero. He followed through, sending the crowd at Kansas Memorial Stadium into a frenzy and sending the Longhorns home to Austin with their first loss to Kansas since 1938.

Texas got off to what appeared to be a scorching start against the Jayhawks when Jacorey Warrick took the first play from scrimmage to the house on a curl route. Warrick avoided the receiver, and outran every Jayhawk defender on the way to the end zone just 11 seconds into the game.

Following the opening touchdown, both punters took over the game, with Michael Dickson getting six punts and KU punter Cole Moos launching seven in the first half. In total, both teams combined for 18 punts.

Texas was hit hard by the turnover bug in the second quarter. The proverbial bug was able to get into the Texas huddle after Shane Buechele left the game for a series with a strained neck.

“I think he came back and just didn’t make those throws,” Strong said. “Our doctors checked him out.”

On the first series in Buechele’s place, senior Tyrone Swoopes fumbled the ball with Kansas recovering on the Texas 23. However, Texas was able to stop the Jayhawks on fourth and one to keep the Jayhawks out of the end zone.

Buechele returned the next series, and promptly underthrew a wide open Jerrod Heard. Fish Simpson was able to intercept the ball after missing the snap and letting Heard streak by him thanks to the underthrow. Buechele had the first multi-interception game of his career with three, including his final throw. On the day, he was 17 of 26 for 165 yards and one touchdown.

Kansas followed with a punt, but found the end zone at the Texas offenses’ expense when Brandon Stewart intercepted Buechele, taking it 55 yards to the end zone the next possession.

The fourth and final turnover of the first half came when Foreman fumbled the ball, setting up Kansas for a field goal that allowed them to take a 10-7 lead into the half.

Foreman ran for a quiet 61 yards in the first half, and followed it up with 189 in the second half. However, Foreman’s two lost fumbles proved to be pivotal in the outcome of the game. Those fumbles soured what could have been a historic and celebratory day for Foreman as a 19-yard run midway through the third quarter put him over 100 yards, breaking Earl Campbell’s record of 11 for consecutive games with 100 yards.

After the game, the loss struck Foreman more than the record.

“I appreciate it,” Foreman said. “I don’t really care about it honestly. We lost.”

Strong acknowledged they had the chance to seal the win, but let it slip through their hands.

“When you had the blown opportunities we had, it’s hard to win a football game,” Strong said. “You had the game there, there were seven or eight plays there, and we couldn’t convert the first down then they make the stop on defense.”

No conversions, no stops, no luck, all nightmare. When asked about his status at Texas after the game, Strong could not provide an explanation.

“No idea,” he said.