Turnovers, slow start hand Jayhawks another road loss
photo by: Nick Krug
Looking to end a seven-year road losing streak, the Kansas football team had another abysmal start with four first-half turnovers in a 43-7 loss to Memphis on Saturday at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
The Tigers, who had a bye last week, started the scoring when junior transfer quarterback Riley Ferguson connected on an 84-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Miller less than five minutes into the first quarter.
KU’s offense followed with fumbles on back-to-back drives — a botched shotgun snap and Ryan Willis lost the ball when scrambling out of the pocket. Memphis turned both of those fumbles into field goals by senior kicker Jake Elliott, taking a 13-0 lead. And it only went downhill from there.
Early in the second quarter, Memphis completed an 8-play, 74-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run by junior running back Doroland Dorceus.
The Jayhawks (1-2) responded with a 66-yard touchdown run by freshman running back Khalil Herbert, the first score of his career, and appeared to grab momentum with a 19-7 deficit.
Following Herbert’s touchdown, KU’s defense forced two three-and-out punts but the offense failed to produce a first down on two straight drives.
With about five minutes left in the second quarter, Memphis (2-0) marched down a short field after a 31-yard punt return by John Williams, and Ferguson tossed a six-yard touchdown to Phil Mayhue for a 26-7 advantage.
In the final two minutes prior to halftime, a bad snap on a Memphis punt gave the Jayhawks the ball at the 38-yard line and a chance to cut into the score. On the next play, Cozart had a pass intercepted (after fumbling on the previous possession) and it was returned 61 yards to the end zone by Memphis defensive lineman Jonathan Wilson for a 33-7 lead.
KU’s defense, which lost Joe Dineen Jr. to an injury in the first quarter, stood its ground for most of the contest. Memphis started seven drives in KU territory and only had 67 yards in 28 plays, resulting in two touchdowns, two field goals and three punts.
The Jayhawks had five sacks and 10 tackles for loss, including two sacks from Dorance Armstrong and two tackles for loss by Marcquis Roberts.
But six turnovers from the Kansas offense prevented any chance of the Jayhawks keeping the game competitive.
Cozart completed 13 of 22 passes for 87 yards and two interceptions. Willis, who played mostly in the second half, was 9 of 13 for 80 yards. Carter Stanley entered in garbage time in the fourth quarter, going 4 of 6 for 26 yards.
The Jayhawks have lost 36 consecutive road games, dating back to Sept. 12, 2009 at UTEP.
10:45 — Riley Ferguson 84-yard pass to Anthony Miller. Jake Elliott kick. One-play drive for 84 yards in 0:13. (Memphis 7, KU 0.)
7:04 — Elliott 41-yard field goal. Four-play drive for 8 yards in 1:22. (Memphis 10, KU 0.)
2:52 — Elliott 42-yard field goal. Four-play drive for 4 yards in 1:26. (Memphis 13, KU 0.)
13:46 — Doroland Corceus 6-yard run. Anthony Miller run failed. Eitht-play drive for 74 yards, in 2:32. (Memphis 19, KU 0.)
12:28 — Khalil Herbert 66-yard run. Matt Wyman kick. Three-play drive for 75 yards, in 1:18. (Memphis 19, KU 7.)
5:19 — Ferguson 6-yard pass to Phil Mayhue. Elliott kick. Five-play drive for 29 yards, in 2:06. (Memphis 26, KU 7.)
1:23 — Jonathan Wilson 61-yard interception return. Elliott kick. (Memphis 33, KU 7.)
0:35 — Elliott 50-yard field goal. Nine-play drive for 41 yards, in 3:25. (Memphis 36, KU 7.)
12:38 — Tony Pollard 8-yard run. Elliott kick. Three-play drive for 33 yards, in 0:54. (Memphis 43, KU 7.)
–Check back on KUsports.com for more coverage of KU football’s loss against Memphis.