Charley Bowen giveth. Charley Bowen taketh away.
Kansas' junior defensive back not only muffed a punt, which led to a first-quarter New Mexico State touchdown, but also blocked a punt and registered a safety in the Jayhawks' 54-14 win over the Aggies Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
"I felt the safety took some of the pressure off me for messing up earlier," said Bowen. "It's hard to say that made up for my mistake. You should never fumble a punt like that."
Bowen, a former all-stater out of Lawrence High, attempted to field a Garrett Henson offering booted with the wind. The ball plopped off his hands into the grasp of Aggie Marc Shaw at KU's own 14.
IT TOOK New Mexico State one play to cover the short distance and tie the score at 7 with 9:57 left in the first quarter.
"I was running to my left, with two people (defenders) there. Then I reached to the side with my hands," said Bowen. "Down that close, I should have called for a fair catch or I should have let it go. If I had to do it again, I'd let it bounce. It's my fault.
"I felt like I let the team down. We held 'em and were getting the ball back again. I can remember a lot of my teammates saying `Forget it. It's a long game. Blow it off and don't worry about it.' That made me feel better."
He also felt relieved when KU coach Glen Mason positioned him as the deep man on other punts.
"THAT SHOCKED me. For him to put you deep after fumbling one, it gives you confidence. It made me feel good, like he knew I could do the job," Bowen said.
His blocked punt came with just 1:05 left in the first half, Henson kicking from his own end zone. The two-point score gave Kansas a 30-7 lead.
"Any time you put that many (players) on the line, someone will come through clean," said Bowen, who has been suffering from a sprained foot since preseason. "I went right up the middle. Nobody put a hand on me. I had a clean shot.
"It's always great to block a punt. It's uplifting for a team," he said.