After a slow start, Kansas fell short of pulling off a fourth-quarter comeback against Texas Tech on Saturday. The Red Raiders kicked a field goal in the final seconds to beat the Jayhawks.
Kansas found themselves in a hole early after a sluggish start on both offense and defense. Texas Tech arrived with a quick 10-0 lead in the first quarter after a couple of gritty drives, mainly featuring senior running back Tahj Brooks.
Down 10-0, Kansas would retake the field after only gaining two yards on its first two offensive drives. Redshirt senior quarterback Jason Bean would finally get the Jayhawks’ offense moving with an option run. After another rush, Bean was tackled hard and had to exit the game with an injury.
With Bean exiting the game, true freshman walk-on Cole Ballard heard his name called as the next man up for the Jayhawks. Ballard would hand the ball off twice before Bean re-entered the game.
After emerging from the injury tent, Bean looked to finish the drive he started, but Texas Tech stopped the Kansas drive after tackling Bean on fourth down. After getting up slowly, Bean spent the rest of the game in the locker room with an injury.
The turnover on downs gave the Red Raiders all the momentum. The Kansas defense regained momentum when Junior safety OJ Burroughs intercepted sophomore quarterback Behren Morton of Texas Tech near the endzone.
Kansas would take the field after the interception with the ball on its one-yard line. Again, it would be with Ballard under center in place of the injured Bean.
In the shadow of his own endzone, Ballard stayed calm, relaxed, and collected while leading his team on a 93-yard drive. While driving, more key injuries struck the Jayhawks. Both junior wide receiver Luke Grimm and super-senior tight end Mason Fairchild left the game after getting hurt.
Although the drive stalled with zero points and a turnover on downs near the endzone, it gave Ballard the confidence he needed to give Kansas a chance against Texas Tech after a sluggish start.
The Red Raiders got the ball back after the turnover, but the Jayhawk’s defense forced a punt. With little time left, Kansas was content with going to halftime only down ten points and ran the clock out.
Texas Tech received the third-quarter kickoff with a chance to extend their ten-point lead. After finally settling in, the Kansas defense was able to force a Texas Tech punt.
Still without Bean, Grimm, and with a limited Fairchild, the Kansas offense took the field looking to get some points on the board. The Jayhawks still struggled to get something going on offense and punted after another three-and-out.
After the Kansas punt, a seemingly settled-in Jayhawk defense forced a Texas Tech three-and-out. A good punt would pin Kansas at its eight-yard line. Ballard took the snap on the drive’s first play but threw an interception.
Ballard was looking for junior tight end Jared Casey on the pass. Red Raider super senior defensive back Dadrion Taylor-Demerson stripped the ball out of Casey’s hands to give Texas Tech the ball back.
Kansas’ defense was able to bend but not break, forcing a field goal attempt. The Jayhawks got the ball back after a Red Raider field goal but were still unable to get anything going, causing a quick punt.
After the Kansas three-and-out, Texas Tech missed a field goal to allow the Jayhawks to score their first points.
Kansas’ offense would need to find an answer if it wanted any chance of clawing in the fourth quarter. That answer was found, and it was Junior running back Devin Neal. He escaped for a 60-yard touchdown run to break Kansas’ scoring drought, now trailing 13-7 early in the fourth quarter.
With fuel from a revived crowd, Kansas came up with a significant stop on defense. After a Texas Tech punt, Kansas got the ball back with a chance to take the lead.
With time ticking, Ballard showed proper poise and made a pivotal third-down pass to junior wide receiver Lawrence Arnold. After runs from Neal and Hishaw to get the Jayhawks into the red zone, the drive stalled. Then redshirt senior kicker Seth Keller punched in a field goal to cut the lead to 13-10.
The Kansas defense stepped up once again and forced a Texas Tech punt. Ballard would get another chance to tie the game or win it for his team. With two minutes to go, he delivered and put together a long 77-yard field goal drive.
Kansas stalled once again in the red zone. Luckily, Keller was able to tie the game with 0:26 remaining.
That was just enough time for Morton and the Red Raiders. Morton drove Texas Tech into field goal range, completing three big passes. Texas Tech kicked a game-winning field goal in the final seconds to beat Kansas 16-13.
Although his team did not emerge victorious, Ballard showed true resiliency during his time in Saturday’s game. When his team needed him most, he gave them a chance to win after being down 13-0.
The Jayhawks will look to bounce back Saturday when rival Kansas State comes to town. Whoever is under center for the Jayhawks will look to beat Kansas State in the annual Sunflower Showdown for the first time since 2008. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. central time and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.