Score: Kansas Jayhawks 31, South Dakota 14
It was over when: Conner Embree returned a punt 29 yards to the nine yard line, setting up a two-play drive that led to a Justin McCay 5-yard touchdown grab with 1:28 to go in the first half. The score gave the Jayhawks a 14-7 lead, and momentum going into the locker room at half time.
Player(s) of the game: The Jayhawk running back corps. Five Kansas running backs combined for 271 yards on 43 carries for a 6.3 average. James Sims, Darrian Miller, Tony Pierson, Taylor Cox, and Brandon Bourbon controlled the game and accounted for 3 touchdowns.
Jake Heaps numbers weren’t terrific but he showed the ability to throw the ball down field and on target. He had several passes dropped but hopefully this won’t be a major issue every game.
The Jayhawks didn’t overwhelm the Coyotes but they certainly didn’t let up once they gained the lead late in the first half. Kansas scored 24 straight points, then tacked on another touchdown for insurance with 5:59 to go.
Fans may have wished for a bit more of a dominating win, but for a team that won just one game a year ago, any victory is a positive. The Jayhawks have plenty to work on, especially on defense and in the passing game, but that running attack was certainly impressive.
Keon Stowers made an impressive interception and touchdown run, showing incredibe athleticism. Unfortunately, a penalty erased the score, and Stowers compounded that error by a teammate by taking off his helmet during the celebration.
The Jayhawks special teams look much improved over last season. Place kicker Matthew Wyman had a perfect night, and punter Trevor Pardula average 42.5 yards a punt, and only allowed 1 yard in punt returns. Conner Embree was also a positive force retuning punts.
Kansas travels south to play Rice on Saturday, September 14 at 6:30 CDT. Rice lost their first game to Texas A&M by a score of 52-31. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.