Cozart sends Kansas past Central Michigan, 24-10

Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush (10) tries to get past Kansas linebacker Ben Heeney (31) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014, in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Montell Cozart threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Justin McCay to break a fourth-quarter tie, and Kansas pulled away for a 24-10 victory over Central Michigan on Saturday.

Tony Pierson ran 74 yards for a touchdown on the game's opening play, and Cozart added a 30-yard touchdown pass to Corey Avery with about 2 minutes remaining to seal the win.

Cozart finished with 226 yards passing for the Jayhawks (2-1), a big part coming on the toss to McCay with 13:23 remaining. The third-down throw was caught underneath the coverage, and McCay slipped the grasp of safety Dennis Nalor and scooted untouched the rest of the way.

Martez Walker had 56 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Chippewas (2-2), who were trying to start 2-0 on the road for the first time since 1985. They won at Purdue on Sept. 6.

Cooper Rush added 178 yards passing, but he was unable to march Central Michigan downfield when the outcome was still in the question. After Kansas had regained the lead, Rush was sacked on third down to end one drive and threw short of the first-down marker to end the next two.

JaCorey Shepherd picked Rush off in the final minutes, allowing Kansas to run out the clock.

The victory may have been a crucial one for embattled Kansas coach Charlie Weis. The Jayhawks were routed 41-3 by Duke last week, and Weis is trying to prove he's made enough progress in two-plus years in charge to warrant the rest of his five-year contract.

It was just Weis's third win over a Football Bowl Subdivision school.

After failing to reach the end zone last week, the Jayhawks needed all of 18 seconds to accomplish the feat Saturday. Pierson took a handoff out of the shotgun, glided to his left and hit a crease, running untouched the rest of the way for the score.

It was the first touchdown for Kansas since the 10:17 mark of the third quarter of its opener against Southeast Missouri State, and only the fifth scored in the Jayhawks' first 10 quarters this season.

After that, the Jayhawks managed 95 yards on 33 plays the rest of the first half.

Playing without its top running back, Thomas Rawls, due to a suspension, Central Michigan fared little better with the ball. Rush was under constant pressure, a quartet of runners found no room to move and punter Ron Coluzzi started to wear out his foot.

The Chippewas' Brian Eavey hit a 37-yard field goal to make it 7-3 at halftime, and Matt Wyman connected from 27 yards for Kansas early in the second half.

Walker, who did not have a carry in the first half, finally sparked Central Michigan early in the third quarter. The sophomore carried six times on a tying touchdown drive, barreling over All-Big 12 linebacker Ben Heeney on the way to the end zone.

Kansas buckled down on defense, though. And when Cozart hit McCay to regain the lead, a sparse crowd, made sparser by a 27-minute weather delay, finally exhaled.

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