North Dakota State stuns Jayhawks, 6-3

Jayhawks stunned in Gill's debut

Head coach Turner Gill purses his lips as he makes his way from the field alongside tight end Bradley Dedeaux (87) and defensive coordinator Carl Torbush following the Jayhawks' 6-3 loss to North Dakota State, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010 at Kivisto Field.

In March, University of Northern Iowa shocked Kansas University’s basketball team with an upset in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Saturday at Memorial Stadium, a similarly scrappy North Dakota State University football team handed KU another crippling loss. Hard to believe that a three-pointer — a 32-yard field goal from NDSU kicker Ryan Jastram with 8:04 to play in the third quarter — from a Missouri Valley upstart did the Jayhawks in again.

The only question left to answer now is this: We know the KU basketball team will be back, but will Turner Gill’s football Jayhawks be able to rebound from the 6-3 heartbreaker?

“It’s one game,” a dejected Gill said. “One game. That’s how you have to take it, and (you) move on from there.”

In front of 48,000 football-hungry fans, the Jayhawks laid an egg in just about every sense of the word and, in doing so, dropped their eighth straight game, a streak that dates back to the sixth game of the 2009 season.

They turned the ball over three times on offense, missed two field goals and had a punt blocked on special teams and struggled to create holes for their running game and time for the passing game in the trenches all night.

Perhaps the most clear-cut indication that this was not KU’s night came from the fact that the leading rusher was wide receiver Daymond Patterson, who gained 63 yards on three carries. Patterson also caught four balls for 66 yards.

The junior from Mesquite, Texas, was far from happy with his performance in his return to offense, however.

“There’s no regret or embarrassment,” Patterson said. “If anything was embarrassing, it wasn’t the loss, it was the way we played.”

The Jayhawks took a 3-0 lead on a 25-yard field goal by Jacob Branstetter late in the first quarter. On the third-down play that came before the kick, starting QB Kale Pick nearly connected with senior running back Angus Quigley on a pass in the flat that almost certainly would’ve been a touchdown. Instead, the pass was tipped, the Jayhawks settled for the field goal, and the offense never got back on track.

On one drive, Pick and the KU passing game appeared to click. A seven-yard strike to Johnathan Wilson followed by a pair of completions to Patterson put KU in the red zone. Two plays later, Pick threw an interception when trying to thread the ball into Bradley McDougald in the end zone.

“I didn’t see that guy. He was in line with my guard,” Pick said. “We just had a rough start, never really could get our chemistry going through the whole offense. As a unit, we just didn’t click.”

Pick, a third-year sophomore who finished 13-for-22 for 138 yards in his debut as a starter, was yanked in favor of red-shirt freshman Jordan Webb in the fourth quarter. Though Webb’s appearance inspired the crowd and momentarily gave the KU offense a lift, he fared no better than Pick, finishing 6-for-11 for 59 yards. What’s more, he and Pick now may find themselves navigating their way through a quarterback controversy in the coming weeks.

“It’s definitely not a good start,” Pick said. “Yeah, I’m not very happy now.”

Added Webb, who was asked if he knew where he stood on the depth chart: “I can’t say that I do. That’s the coach’s decision. Whoever we go with, we’re going to run with it, and we’re going to keep getting better.”

Even the Jayhawks’ good moments were riddled with frustration. Junior cornerback Isiah Barfield’s interception in the end zone in the second quarter kept NDSU off the board at the time. However, instead of falling down for the touchback, a jacked-up Barfield ran out of the end zone and was tackled at the one.

KU’s defense limited NDSU to 168 yards of total offense and came up with some crucial stops late when KU was out of timeouts and desperately needed to regain possession.

“I thought they played outstanding,” Gill said of the defense. “I think holding a team to under 200 yards of total offense … you’d take that any day.”

The loss was KU’s second all-time to an FCS (formerly Div. I-AA) opponent. The only other came in September of 1987, when KU fell, 16-11, to Louisiana Tech, which remained I-AA until 1988.

“There’s going to be a lot of people doubting us after today,” Webb said. “But we’re Kansas. People doubt us every day.”

That thought, more than any other perhaps best sums up the fact that the last three seasons of Kansas football truly were unbelievable.

Now all that’s left to see is if this season will be unbelievable, as well, even if for different reasons.

KU (0-1) will play host to No. 16 Georgia Tech (1-0) at 11 a.m. Saturday. Tech rolled over South Carolina State, 41-10, Saturday at Tech.

View a complete game recap.