LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—The way leads and records kept changing hands, even the players had trouble keeping up.
First, Dezmon Briscoe broke Kansas’ career record for receptions. Then Kerry Meier leaped ahead of Briscoe. Then Meier also erased the school record for most catches in a game.
In the meantime, Todd Reesing was throwing for a career-high 442 yards and four touchdowns and No. 16 Kansas was beating Iowa State 41-36 with the help of plenty of last-minute good fortune.
Iowa State’s Austen Arnaud ran around eluding tackles on a fourth-and-9 play and spotted Darius Darks running free into the end zone with about a minute left. But the ball sailed over the receiver’s outstretched hands, allowing Kansas (5-0, 1-0 Big 12) to slip past the 20-point underdogs and remain unbeaten.
“We found ourselves in a shootout and in the end, we seemed to make a few more plays and found ourselves on the top end,” said Meier.
For a second or two, it looked like the ball might settle into the clutches of Darks, who about 2 minutes earlier had caught Arnaud’s 5-yard TD pass.
“If (the pass) is two yards shorter, we’d be having a heck of a celebration right now,” said Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads.
Arnaud had a day to remember, hitting 25 of 40 for 293 yards and two TDs. Alexander Robinson, who missed most of the previous game with a groin injury, ran for 152 yards and two more TDs for the Cyclones (3-3, 0-2).
“I thought I had (Darks),” said Arnaud. “But I just threw it a yard or two too far.”
Reesing was 37 for 49. He tied his own team record for completions and came within 38 yards of the school mark for most yards.
Meier had a school-record 16 catches for 142 yards and two TDs while Briscoe, a fellow senior, caught 12 balls for 186 yards and two more scores. For this week at least, Meier owns the career record with 167 receptions. Briscoe stands at 165. Meier broke the single-game record he and Briscoe had shared.
“You get in the swing of the game and kind of lose track of what’s going on,” said Meier. “I had the feeling I was catching quite a few balls. I didn’t know I was around 16.”
The career mark will be a two-man duel the rest of the year.
“It’s hard to believe there’s a better pitch-and-catch group in the country than those guys,” said Kansas coach Mark Mangino. “I’d be hard-pressed to find a better one.”
After the Cyclones took a 30-27 lead on Arnaud’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Marquis Hamilton, Reesing made it 41-30 with a 46-yard touchdown throw to Briscoe and a 6-yard scoring toss to Meier.
“I don’t think you can find a duo who’s better than them,” said Reesing. “If you do, I’ll challenge and say that they’re not.”
One of the biggest cheers of the day was for Jacob Branstetter’s extra point following Kansas’ second touchdown. Until then, he and Iowa State’s Grant Mahoney had combined to go 0 for 3 on PATs, a play that’s usually close to automatic.
After Reesing’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Meier put Kansas ahead 41-30, Arnaud led the Cyclones down field and with 4:55 left connected with Darks on a 5-yard pass.
Reesing, who already owns most of the school’s passing records, hit Meier with a 3-yard TD pass late in the first half and then made it 20-12 with a 4-yard run up the middle with 30 seconds to go.
Iowa State took a 23-20 lead in the third quarter with Grant Mahoney’s 34-yard field goal and Arnaud’s 2-yard run and two-point conversion pass.
“When you’re playing against an offense that is as good as Kansas and has players as good as Kansas does … one stop, you’ve played great defense,” said Rhoads. “Had we gone down and put it in the end zone, I would have said we played a great defensive football game.”
Robinson scored on runs of 1 and 7 yards.
The day started brutally for Iowa State’s special teams, continuing the nightmarish ending to a 24-23 loss the week before when Kansas State blocked Mahoney’s PAT attempt with 31 seconds to go.
Mahoney missed after each of the Cyclones’ first two touchdowns. In the second quarter when Mahoney lined up for a 26-yard field goal attempt, holder Derec Schmidgall mishandled the snap.