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Archive for Sunday, September 19, 1999

NESMITH ALMOST MADE IT

September 19, 1999

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— Three times while at Butler County Community College Carl Nesmith returned kickoffs for touchdowns.

Nesmith isn't in junior college anymore.

On Saturday, Nesmith, now a junior at Kansas University, thought he had his first collegiate kickoff return for a touchdown.

Wrong.

Nesmith was hauled down three yards short of a touchdown in Saturday's 51-17 loss to Colorado by Terrance Wood, a sophomore defensive back.

"I guess I ran out of gas a little," Nesmith said afterward.

Maybe he started too deep in the end zone. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder from Jacksonville, Fla., decided to run this one out from about five yards deep -- usually a no-no.

"I was trying to spark the team and get everybody up," said Nesmith. "I felt like I could get out of there."

Nesmith did. He sprinted to the right, then cut back to his left, nearly nailing an official before he was brought down by Wood after traveling an official 97 yards -- the longest non-scoring kickoff return in school history.

"I didn't see him," Nesmith said. "If I would have seen him I would have turned it on a little more."

As noted, Nesmith, who is also the Jayhawks' backup free safety, was stunned to be pulled down from behind.

"It's a higher level now, I guess," he said.

Nesmith returned two other kicks for 55 yards and wound up with 152 yards -- just one yard shy of John Hadl's 40-year-old school single-game record.

Nesmith's spectacular return went for naught when tailback HenrÃ- Childs fumbled two plays later and CU's Ben Kelly scooped the loose ball and raced 96 yards for a touchdown -- the longest fumble return in Colorado history.

Special teams were about the only bright spot for the Jayhawks on Saturday.

Tim Bowers' block of a Nick Pietsch punt into the end zone that teammate Greg Erb fell on for a TD was another big play.

What everyone wanted to talk about, though, was how Bowers knocked Colorado quarterback Mike Moschetti out of the game just before halftime.

Bowers, a linebacker, was coming on a blitz.

"Their back tried to cut me and I reached out and got a part of his leg," Bowers said. "I think my helmet hit his knee. I heard him screaming. I hope he's OK."

Moschetti was taken to a hospital where X-rays were negative. The Buffs' senior signal-caller is listed as probable for next week's game at Washington.

Last season Bowers returned a fumble for a touchdown in the Jayhawks' 38-17 win over the Buffs in Lawrence.

"Last year was a lot better," Bowers said. "This was horrible. We got it handed to us. " We just didn't show up today sometimes."

-- Chuck Woodling's phone message number is 832-7147. His e-mail address is cwoodling@ljworld.com.

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