Wyman gives Kansas 13-10 win over LA Tech
By GEOFFREY CALVERT
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kenneth Dixon stretched for an extra yard, trying to get Louisiana Tech as close to the end zone as he could. His team was tied at 10 with Kansas on Saturday, and was driving for what could have been the go-ahead score with less than 2 minutes left.
Instead, linebacker Michael Reynolds pried the ball loose from the running back's grasp and the Jayhawks recovered the football. So rather than Louisiana Tech getting into the end zone, the Jayhawks had enough time to drive 60 yards for a go-ahead score of their own.
Walk-on kicker Matthew Wyman hit a 52-yard field goal as time expired for a 13-10 win.
"I told (quarterback) Ryan (Higgins) right before we went out there, 'Look, we got three points on the board, don't take it off,'" Bulldogs coach Skip Holtz said. "Next play, we run the ball and Kenneth was fighting for extra yards and put it on the ground."
Wyman's field goal snapped the Jayhawks' 22-game losing streak against teams from the Football Bowl Subdivision.
If it weren't for fumbles, the streak would have reached 23 games.
After Daniel Cobb intercepted Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps on the Jayhawks' 29 early in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs advanced to the 2 on Higgins' 27-yard scamper. Upon review, officials ruled Higgins fumbled the ball out of the end zone for a touchback. Kansas then covered 80 yards in eight plays, evening the game at 10 on a touchdown reception by Jimmay Mundine.
"I was trying to make a play and really it slipped out of my hands," Higgins said of his fumble through the end zone. "It was just poor play on my part."
Higgins completed 35 of 55 attempts for 289 yards for the Bulldogs (1-3). He was starting in place of Scotty Young, absent with some bruised ribs.
Heaps threw for 279 yards and a touchdown for Kansas (2-1), which hadn't defeated another FBS team since beating Northern Illinois on Sept. 10, 2011. James Sims added 78 yards rushing, while Tony Pierson had nine catches for 82 yards.
Dixon finished with 129 yards rushing for Louisiana Tech.
It was an ugly affair throughout.
The teams combined to miss three field-goal attempts in the first half, the Jayhawks twice failed to convert on fourth down, and an interception by Heaps led to the only touchdown in the half.
Heaps appeared to have some miscommunication with his wide receiver and threw a pass over the middle to Bulldogs safety Thomas McDonald. That gave Louisiana Tech the ball near midfield, and it took 10 plays before Higgins fount Hunter Lee on an 8-yard fade pass for the score.
It was the third time in three games the Jayhawks fell behind early.
They tried to answer with a drive that fizzled once they reached the Louisiana Tech 6, but Wyman missed a 28-yard field goal wide right.
But the Bulldogs squandered a chance to build on its own lead when Kyle Fischer missed a 37-yard field goal so badly it looked like the ball deflated in midair. Wyman converted a 39-yard kick to get the Jayhawks within 7-3, and Fischer's 40-yarder just before halftime also missed.
"Their punter and their kicker were the difference in the game," Holtz said. "When you look at the production and points, we turned the ball over twice inside the 5-yard line going in and we missed two field goals. That's no way to win a football game on the road."
Fischer finally ended a 0-for-4 slide on field goals that dated to last week's loss to Tulane when he hit from 39 yards early in the third quarter. That gave the Bulldogs a 10-3 lead, though it seemed much greater than a touchdown the way the defense was playing.
Kansas had to start from inside its own 10-yard line on three straight possessions in the second half. The third one ended when Cobb intercepted Heaps on a batted pass, giving the Bulldogs the ball at the 29-yard line.
Higgins fumbled the ball on the next play after running for 27 yards, which was the first of two fumbles Kansas turned into crucial scores.
"It just seems like every other week something happens and it doesn't go our way," Cobb said. "But we've got to get those problems fixed."