When it was over, it wasn’t the shootout some had expected. In fact, the Kansas defense turned in an impressive performance against a potent offense, but it wasn’t enough, as missed opportunities overshadowed as the Jayhawks fell to the Rice Owls 23-14, Saturday night in Houston.
Kansas falls to 1-1, while Rice notched their first win of the season to improved to 1-1. The Jayhawks hope to end the non-conference portion of their schedule with a win next Saturday at home against Louisiana Tech.
Against the Owls, Kansas did everything it could to hang in the game, defensively. Facing an offense that racked over 500 yards in a Week 1 loss against Texas A&M, the Jayhawks held Rice to 16 points, three field goals and only 370 yards of total offense.
The difference was the struggles of the Kansas offense, which gave up a touchdown on a 52 yard interception return by Rice’s Michael Kutzler which put the Owls on the board first midway through the first quarter.
Kansas did show sparks though, when super speedster Tony Pierson hauled in a 77 yard reception from quarterback Jake Heaps, which started as a short pass over the middle and turned into a breakaway to tie the game.
In fact, the Jayhawks took a 14-13 lead in the third quarter on a one-yard quarterback sneak by Heaps that was set up by interception by Isaiah Johnson. The lead would last into the fourth quarter, but more missed opportunities to add to the lead, along with key drops helped Rice assume control, beginning with a 57 yard field goal by kicker Chris Boswell to put the Owls back on top 16-14 with 8:05 to play.
After Kansas stalled on their next possession, Rice put the game away with a 10 play, 50-yard drive, capped off by an eight-yard touchdown run by running back Charles Ross to put the game away. Ross finished with 162 yards on 27 carries with a touchdown.
Meanwhile, Kansas was led in rushing by James Sims, who tallied 121 yards on 19 carries. Heaps was 13-28 for 157 yards and two interceptions, while Pierson finished as the team’s leading receiver with 95 yards on four catches.