LINCOLN, NEB. For the first time all season, kicking was a strong suit for Kansas University's football team Saturday against Nebraska.
The Jayhawks made two of three field-goal attempts against the Cornhuskers, the team's only offensive points in a 14-8 loss at Memorial Stadium. Nebraska kicker Sandro DeAngelis, on the other hand, missed each of his two tries.
KU (2-3) entered having made just four of 10 field goals, including misses against Northwestern and Texas Tech that could have been game-winning kicks. The Jayhawks' first four opponents had combined to make four of five field-goal attempts.
Red-shirt freshman Scott Webb missed KU's first field-goal attempt against Nebraska. The 37-yarder just 2 1/2 minutes in would have given the Jayhawks a 5-0 lead, but ended up being Webb's second miss in four tries this season.
A quarter later, with KU still ahead 2-0 and again in field-goal range, head coach Mark Mangino unexpectedly summoned Johnny Beck. The senior kicker drilled a 36-yard field goal, his first successful attempt since a 20-yarder in the third quarter of KU's season-opening win over Tulsa on Sept. 4.
"Let's give credit to Johnny Beck," Mangino said. "He's taken a lot of criticism, and he went out tonight and kicked two balls that he didn't even know he was going to. I just had a gut feeling that it was his night to do it, and I went with him, and I'm thankful that I did."
Beck found out he would be kicking the first field goal just a play before he headed out on the field.
"They called me on third down, and basically you've got to go out there and get the job done," Beck said. "I don't think I've taken a snap in two weeks. For them to call on me and then go out there and convert two field goals gives the coaches that confidence again that I can come out there and get the job done."
Despite the 36-yard field goal and a successful 39-yard kick that gave KU an 8-7 lead midway through the third period, Mangino did not call upon Beck when KU faced fourth-and-eight from NU's 24-yard line nearly six minutes into the fourth period.
Instead, Mangino called a passing play intended for Charles Gordon, but quarterback Adam Barmann threw incomplete after being hurried by Titus Adams and Benard Thomas.
"No disrespect to anybody, but I'd rather put the game in the hands of our defense than our kicking game, and that was my strategy there," Mangino said.