(Saturday, September 26th)
Final Score: (20) Kansas 35, Southern Miss 28
Lawrence, KS (Sports Network) - Todd Reesing threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns, leading 20th-ranked Kansas to a 35-28 win over Southern Mississippi in a tight affair that featured 828 yards of total offense.
Reesing was an efficient 30-of-41 passing and threw one interception for the Jayhawks (4-0), who have won 20 straight non-conference home games, dating back to 2003. Toben Opurum added 109 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries, and Kerry Meier caught 10 passes for 141 yards and two scores.
"We knew coming in that (Southern Miss was) a very good team," Reesing said. "Looking back, we didn't really know how good they were. I have to give a lot of credit to them because they are a really good football team. They played hard and gave us some new looks that we weren't familiar with. I wouldn't be surprised if they are contending for their conference championship."
Dezmon Briscoe had a 20-yard rushing touchdown and four catches for 60 yards for the victors, who went 2-for-2 on fourth down conversions.
Austin Davis completed 28-of-42 passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns for Southern Mississippi (3-1), which had its eight-game winning streak snapped. Davis also threw his first interception of the season.
DeAndre Brown caught four passes for 85 yards and a touchdown, while Jonathan Massey had two receiving scores in defeat. The Eagles' rushing attack managed just 64 yards on the ground.
"It was a heartbreaking loss because we felt like we played the way we wanted to, minus the mistakes," Massey said.
With the game tied, 28-28, toward the end of the third quarter, the Jayhawks went in front.
Starting from USM's 40-yard line, Reesing guided Kansas for the go-ahead score in just four plays. Pass completions of five and seven yards, respectively, opened the set and ended the quarter, and the fourth started with a five-yard rush by Opurum down to the 23.
A roughing the passer penalty was called on the following play to put the Jayhawks at the 12, and Reesing found Meier for the second time in the game for a 35-28 margin with a bit over 14 minutes left.
"If you push yourself and work hard throughout the week, Saturdays will be a lot easier," Meier said. "If you're pushing yourself hard and pushing your teammates, stuff comes easier on game day. It's a testament to our coaching staff, to our players and to myself for pushing each other."
Davis threw an interception on the Eagles' next drive, and Southern Miss then went three-and-out after forcing a Kansas punt. The Jayhawks threatened again, getting to the USM 25, but Opurum fumbled, and the Eagles recovered with four minutes left.
Southern Miss was forced to punt, but its defense came up big and held firm for three plays. The Eagles then got the ball back on their own 33 with 1:53 to play, but the offense didn't go anywhere, as Davis was sacked for 10 yards on 3rd-and-7 and threw an incompletion on fourth down to effectively end the game.
Kansas got started right away, as Reesing threw a perfect over-the-shoulder pass to Meier for a 62-yard touchdown less than 1 1/2 minutes into the game.
Southern Miss answered right away, though. Davis hit Damion Fletcher on a 49- yard pass play to the Jayhawks' seven-yard line, and the seven-play, 68-yard drive ended on a one-yard touchdown reception by Massey to tie the game with 10:22 still on the clock.
The next drive for Kansas also resulted in a touchdown, as Reesing guided the team 74 yards in 12 plays. Briscoe ran it in from 20 yards away for a 14-7 lead with about four minutes left in the opening quarter.
The Eagles tied the game early in the second, when Davis used passing plays of 21, 28 and 22 yards to guide the team 91 yards in seven plays. The 22-yard pass play was a touchdown to Brown, his first of the season, with 12 minutes until halftime.
But Reesing helped put the Jayhawks back in front with a 14-play, 79-yard set late in the quarter. The drive culminated with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Opurum with just over three minutes remaining, which put Kansas ahead by seven.
Kansas stopped the Eagles deep in their territory on fourth down in the waning moments of the half to preserve the lead.
"It's disappointing that we didn't convert," said Southern Mississippi head coach Larry Fedora. "When you get into a game like this one, you can't miss those type of opportunities."
Each team traded a touchdown early in the third quarter. Kansas took its first drive 70 yards in 12 plays, using a 26-yard reception by Briscoe on 3rd-and-9 from the USM 45 to set up Opurum's two-yard scoring run on 3rd-and-goal midway through the period.
The Golden Eagles responded by going 80 yards in four plays. Davis found Brown for 49 yards on the first play of the series, and three plays later Davis ran for the touchdown from 16 yards away to make it a 28-21 game.
USM forced an interception on the ensuing series and tied the game again. Davis led an 11-play, 63-yard drive and finished it with a four-yard touchdown pass to Massey in the last minute of the third.
USM had the second-longest active winning streak in the country before the loss...Brown was a freshman All-American last season and had just two catches in the season coming into the game...It was the first-ever meeting between the schools.
09/26 17:35:34 ET