2:00 PM ET, October 28, 2006
Memorial Stadium, LAWRENCE, KS
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.
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.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-15||8-15|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||0-1|
|FG||4:51||MASON CROSBY 37 YD FG|
Drive info: 14 plays, 53 yards.
|FG||8:57||MASON CROSBY 26 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 51 yards.
|FG||0:41||MASON CROSBY 32 YD FG|
Drive info: 5 plays, 16 yards.
|TD||4:35||JON CORNISH 22 YD PASS FROM TODD REESING (SCOTT WEBB KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 76 yards.
|TD||14:30||TODD REESING 3 YD RUN (SCOTT WEBB KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 24 yards.
|TD||7:57||DEREK FINE 5 YD PASS FROM TODD REESING (FAILED 2PT PASS)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 53 yards.
|TD||3:17||RYAN WALTERS 95 YD DEFENSIVE FUMBLE RETURN (FAILED 2PT PASS)||15||20|