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Kansas busts out of slump, beats Colorado for first Big 12 win

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -- With a gigantic assist from a mop-haired
little freshman, the Kansas Jayhawks discovered the perfect cure
for those agonizing second-half collapses: a second-half rally.

Todd Reesing, who hadn't played at all in the first eight games,
came off the bench and breathed life into a lethargic Kansas
offense. He threw for two touchdowns and ran for another Saturday
as the Jayhawks erased a 9-0 deficit with a wild 20-15 win over
Colorado.

The victory stopped a four-game losing skid for the Jayhawks
(4-5 overall, 1-4 Big 12), who had let leads of 18 and 19 points
slip away in their two previous losses.

"He was very poised, amazing for a true freshman quarterback,"
said Jon Cornish, who scored Kansas' first TD and became the first
Jayhawk running back in 10 years to go over 1,000 yards rushing.

"He's a little guy. But he delivers such big plays. That's why
we call him Sparky."

Colorado (1-8, 1-4) had taken a 9-0 lead with three Mason Crosby
field goals in the first half.

But starting the second half, all the momentum swung to Kansas
when Reesing replaced struggling senior Adam Barmann, who was
subbing for injured redshirt freshman Kerry Meier.

The play that got the Jayhawks rolling was Reesing's 42-yard
pass to another freshman, running back Jake Sharp. A moment later,
Cornish scored on a 22-yard catch-and-run.

"To tell you the truth, we worked on that play all week," said
Reesing, a native of Austin, Texas.

"We knew it would be a good play for us. I pulled up and threw
the ball. Jake hadn't turned around. I was like, `Just turn around
and catch the ball, Jake.' He finally did, and then I knew we were
going to start clicking from there on out."

Aqib Talib returned the first of his two second-half
interceptions 59 yards, and a few minutes later Reesing scored on a
3-yard quarterback draw. His 5-yard fade pass on third-and-goal to
Derek Fine put the Jayhawks up 20-9 with 7:57 left.

In just one half, Reesing wound up with 90 yards rushing -- which
equaled Kansas' entire offensive output in the first half. He also
hit 11 of 18 passes for 106 yards and two scores.

"He came in and did a great job," said Colorado coach Dan
Hawkins. "He sparked them and got them going. You have to give him
credit."

The Jayhawks were poised to deliver the knockout punch after
Reesing's 63-yard scamper to the Colorado 2. But somebody knocked
the ball out of the freshman quarterback's hands and Ryan Walters
plucked it out of midair and went 95 yards for a TD -- the
second-longest return in Colorado history.

After the 2-point conversion pass failed, Colorado trailed by
only five points. But Jeff Foster recovered the ensuing onside kick
for Kansas.

"We looked great in the first half," said Walters. "I don't
know what happened there at the end. I think people got too
comfortable with the way we were playing, and Kansas executed great
in the second half. Their quarterback gave them a spark."

There's that word again. "Sparky" is a nickname coach Mark
Mangino gave Reesing one day in a team meeting, and it's stuck.

The media guide which lists him at 5-11, he admitted with a
grin, "pushes it a little."

"We call him Sparky," said Talib. "He came out like a little
spark plug. He ran 63 yards and took about 400 steps."

Despite great high school production, Reesing's lack of physical
stature kept him from being recruited by many schools, including
the Texas Longhorns, the team he grew up dreaming of playing for.

"I'm not hung up on height," said Mangino.

Neither is Reesing.

"I'm just glad the way it worked out," he said. "I love it
here. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."

Colorado, the Big 12 North champion four of the past five years,
is in danger of going winless on the road for the first time since
the 1984 team finished 1-10. The Buffs' only remaining road game is
at Nebraska.

James Cox, Colorado's second-team quarterback, broke his right
thumb in the second quarter while spelling starter Bernard Jackson
on a play, leaving tight end Patrick Devenny as the Buffs' backup.