Woeful Rutgers blown out by Kansas
LAWRENCE, KAN. » Bryce Torneden and Mike Lee reach returned interceptions for touchdowns and Kansas’ defense wound up with three picks and recovered three fumbles en route to a 55-14 win over Rutgers on Saturday, the Jayhawks’ first back-to-back wins over FBS opponents since 2009.
Turnovers plagued the Scarlet Knights from the start as Torneden jumped in front of an Artur Sitkowski pass on Rutgers’ second drive and returned it 39 yards for the score. Torneden was there again the next time out, recovering a fumble by Jonathan Hilliman that set up a field goal.
Early in the second quarter, Lee picked off a pass on the sideline and scored for a 23-7 lead, weaving his way 31 yards past several Knights to the end zone.
“Whenever you have six turnovers in a game and give up over 400 yards rushing, it’s really tough to win football games,” Rutgers coach Chris Ash said. “We need to find a way to get better. We need to go back and evaluate everything that we’re doing, who we’re doing it with, and find a way to keep improving during the week and working really hard to play the best game that we can play on Saturday.
“Some of the things we did today are just not going to win games. Good teams run the ball, stop the run. They protect the ball, they take it away, and when you look at the stats today, we just did not do that.”
True freshman Pooka Williams was the star on offense, the anchor of an strong ground game for Kansas that rushed for 400 yards and scored four times. Finishing with 158 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown run, Williams has 283 yards and three touchdowns in his first two college games.
“We need to have good gap integrity; we need to get off blocks and we need to tackle him,” Ash said. That’s really what you need to do to stop the run. Again, when we wore down in the second half because of our depth, our tackling became an issue. He broke some tackles and made some guys miss.”
Both Miles Kendrick and Peyton Bender saw time at quarterback for Kansas, but Kendrick carved out a much larger role then in weeks prior thanks to some strong play. He was responsible for the Jayhawks’ lone score through the air, a goal-line fade to Jeremiah Booker who lost his shoe while landing in the corner of the end zone. Kendrick also ran for an 8-yard score in the third.
Special teams was one of few bright spots for Rutgers, as Deonte Roberts blocked a Kansas field goal try in the first quarter and took it 64 yards for the touchdown. The Scarlet Knights blocked another field goal later in the quarter, but didn’t get any points out of it.
Sitkowski finished the game with just 47 yards and three interceptions before being replaced by Gio Rescigno in the third quarter. Raheem Blackshear led Rutgers in rushing with 102 yards, and Hilliman added a score on the ground as well.
“You never was to lose like that,” senior linebacker Deonte Roberts said. “Its a learning lesson, I guess. Correct our mistakes from the game before next week. Our opponents are going to try to do what Kansas did. We have to be better next week. It’s football, games like these happen.”
Rutgers hosts Buffalo on Saturday, its final non-conference game of the season.
Kansas running back Pooka Williams Jr. (1) leaps over Rutgers defensive back Isaiah Wharton (11) Saturday in Lawrence, Kan.