Reesing leads No. 25 Kansas past N. Colorado 49-3
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—Northern Colorado dared Kansas to run, and Todd Reesing was happy to oblige. It’s just one more thing he does well.
With the Bears dropping extra men into coverage, Kansas’ career passing leader ignited a slow-starting offense with two rushing touchdowns and the 25th-ranked Jayhawks ran for 328 yards in a 49-3 rout Saturday night before the biggest home crowd in school history.
Reesing, who has virtually rewritten his school’s passing records, hit 13 of 20 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns—relatively paltry totals for him.
“They didn’t want to let us throw the ball down field too much, so they dropped more guys in coverage than maybe we’re used to,” said Reesing. “When they do that, you’ve got to run the ball and we were able to do that effectively and that’s why we were able to score points.”
Jake Sharp scored on a 2-yard run and a 10-yard pass before the Memorial Stadium record crowd of 53,530, a fan base that’s been energized by 20 wins the past two years and seems to appreciate no longer being known as a basketball-only school.
It didn’t take the Jayhawks long to adjust when they saw the Bears were dropping seven or more men back into pass coverage.
“Early in the game, they were dropping eight,” coach Mark Mangino said. “It’s hard to find someone open with eight defenders in the secondary. Todd just pulled it down and ran with it. Which is part of what we’d like for him to do.”
The Bears of the Big Sky Conference, who won only once last year and are struggling to transition to Division I, put up more fight than most in the big crowd expected. It was only 7-0 going into the second quarter, and Northern Colorado had missed a short field goal attempt.
Northern Colorado also got plenty of help from the Jayhawks, who picked up 68 penalty yards, including pass interference and roughing-the-passer infractions during the drive that set up Michael York’s 29-yard field goal in the third.
It was an especially long night for Kansas cornerback Anthony Davis, who was flagged for pass interference three times in the first half.
“No one feels worse than him,” Mangino said. “I think he just panicked a little bit tonight.”
The Jayhawks scored on their first drive, on Reesing’s 1-yard rush on fourth down, and then rattled off 21 points in the second quarter for a 28-0 halftime lead.
Freshman quarterback Kale Pick then led two touchdown drives, capped by runs of 10 and 26 yards by freshman running back Toben Opurum.
In the 21-point second period, Sharp took a shovel pass from Reesing, juked a linebacker into the turf and went 10 yards into the end zone. Sharp rushed for 123 yards on 21 carries.
Dezmon Briscoe, who set a school record for yards receiving last year, was one of four players suspended for the game for violating unspecified team rules.
Also held out were wide receiver Raimond Pendleton, defensive tackle Jamal Greene and defensive end Jeff Wheeler, all reserves.
“Briscoe and Greene’s suspensions were related to the spring,” Mangino said. “They knew when they were suspended in the spring that part of the stipulation would be not playing in the first game. Jeff Wheeler and Raimond Pendleton’s issues were different.”
Reesing’s 22-yard run on first down and 2-yard spurt on fourth-and-1 helped set up his 13-yard scoring dash for Kansas’ second TD.
On Kansas’ next possession, Reesing was flushed out of the pocket and running to his left when he fired a pass that threaded the needle between two defenders and was caught by Tertavian Ingram for a 16-yard touchdown.
Bears quarterback Bryan Waggener was 19 for 30 for 165 yards passing.
“We struggled in the red zone,” Waggener said. “We had some penalties that killed us in the red zone. Todd Reesing took over the game and showed why he’s one of the better quarterbacks in the nation.”