Kansas stays unbeaten with 30-24 win over Kansas St
MANHATTAN, Kan. -- The question was: How good is unbeaten Kansas, with its colossal stats compiled against four cupcakes?
The answer: Good enough to become the first Kansas team in 18 years to win in the Little Apple.
Todd Reesing threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Jayhawks to a 30-24 victory Saturday over No. 24 Kansas State, a week after the Wildcats won at Texas.
"We're the first Kansas team to win here since 1989," Reesing said. "So that in itself should prove to anyone who was doubting us before the game that we are for real."
Kansas (5-0, 1-0 Big 12) overcame some potentially ruinous mistakes and struck for a quick TD just 65 seconds after giving up the lead in the fourth quarter. With their first road win over a ranked team since 1995, they've started a season 5-0 for just the third time in 39 years .
"This was a great team effort," Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. "The kids hung together on the sideline, the coaches stayed calm, we stayed with the game plan and good things happened."
Reesing, who had thrown for 1,119 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first four games, hit Dexton Fields with a 30-yard scoring pass for a 27-24 lead with 6:27 left in the game.
The Wildcats (3-2, 1-1) had capitalized on Fields' mistake and taken the lead on a halfback option pass about a minute earlier.
Minutes after Kansas took the lead, Kendrick Harper, who missed the first four games with an injury, intercepted Josh Freeman's pass on the 26 and Scott Webb converted it into a 24-yard field goal with 2:21 remaining.
Freeman, Kansas State's 6-foot-6 sophomore, outgained the 5-foor-9 Reesing, hitting 31 of 48 passes for a career-high 305 yards and one TD. But he was also intercepted three times, the last by Aqib Talib, Kansas' two-way star, with 1:12 to play.
"We had an opportunity to win the game at the end with a two-minute drive. We did not do so," Kansas State coach Ron Prince said. "That's one of those situations where you're the head football coach and that's your responsibility, so that's my deal, and we should've been able to perform in that situation and we did not."
Talib, beaten on a 68-yard touchdown pass by Jordy Nelson in the first quarter, got his payback just before halftime when he was left uncovered and caught a 5-yard touchdown that tied it 14-14 at halftime. It was the sixth consecutive game the all-Big 12 cornerback had scored a touchdown.
"That's the kind of game that we would have given away last year," said Talib. "This year we have more experience. We have the confidence at the end of the game."
Nelson, who came into the game with 42 catches for 497 yards and was the Big 12 offensive player of the week after the Texas win, caught 10 balls for 137 yards and a TD in Kansas State's first game as a ranked team in three years.
Working against Talib, he made two outstanding catches on the 11-play, 80-yard drive that Leon Patton capped with a 6-yard run for a 14-7 Kansas State lead.
"Jordy Nelson is one of the top four or five receivers I've seen play in this league," Mangino said. "He has all the tools you want."
Kansas State caught a huge break late in the fourth when the ball bounced off Fields, soared about 20 feet into the air and was cradled by Chris Carney for his second interception on the Kansas 16.
After converting on fourth-and-inches to the 5, Freeman handed off to Patton, who pulled up and found Deon Murphy alone in the end zone for a 24-21 lead with 7:32 left.
Fields made up for his mistake by shaking free of a tackler and speeding 30 yards for the go-ahead score.
"I knew I was going to get another chance," said Fields. "It felt great."
The Jayhawks got their first touchdown on Kansas State's home field since 1999 when Jake Sharp, apparently stopped for a short gain, burst out of a gang of tacklers and sped 20 yards to make it 7-7.
Kansas went ahead 21-14 when Reesing connected with Dezmon Briscoe for a 28-yard touchdown pass.
The Wildcats pulled to 21-17 on Brooks Rossman's 32-yard field goal in the final seconds of the third quarter.
The Jayhawks had averaged more than 550 yards and 53 points while crushing Central Michigan, Southeast Louisiana, Toledo and Florida International, a nonconference schedule that left many wondering if Kansas was to be taken seriously.
"We're going to have some fun and enjoy this," fullback Brandon McAnderson said. "It feels great. I don't remember feeling like this at any other time in my career. It's the best."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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