Memphis posts 651 yards of offense in 55-23 blitz of Kansas
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch watched his running back fumble the ball away on the Tigers' first offensive play, and Kansas march downfield for a touchdown a few minutes later.
Never once was Lynch worried.
''We just knew we had to stay focused,'' he said. ''We knew the game was going to have some adversity in it. We're a mature team. We've been down in games and come back to win.''
They did it again Saturday night.
Lynch threw for 354 yards and two scores, the Tigers got five more touchdowns on the ground and rolled to a 55-23 blowout of the Jayhawks to snap a 19-game skid against power-five teams.
The Tigers (2-0) piled up 281 yards rushing while scoring on their first five possessions of the second half. They finished with 651 yards total offense, while their point total was the most the Jayhawks (0-2) had allowed since Georgia Tech hung 66 on them on Sept. 17, 2011.
''We didn't start very well, but our guys never panicked, which I'm proud of,'' Memphis coach Justin Fuente said. ''I felt like they were anxious. They were anxious to play the game.''
The Jayhawks, riding a five-game losing streak, are still searching for their first victory for coach David Beaty. The last time Kansas lost its first two games was 2002.
Montell Cozart was just 13 of 28 for 118 yards passing for the Jayhawks, though he did have a TD run. Ke'aun Kinner added 113 yards rushing and another touchdown.
''We just need to take care of our defense,'' Cozart said, ''put points on the board. We got on top of them early and they fought right back. Credit to those guys.''
The Tigers spotted the Jayhawks a 10-0 lead thanks mostly to their own mistakes. Tevin Jones fumbled on their first offensive play and Kansas turned it into a field goal, and a three-and-out on the Tigers' next possession set the Jayhawks up for a 73-yard touchdown drive.
But the perennial cellar-dwellers were unable to sustain the momentum.
Sam Craft's short TD run helped Memphis to draw even by the end of the first quarter, and Doroland Dorceus's scamper made it 17-10. The Jayhawks tacked on a field goal a few minutes later, but Lynch answered with a short TD toss to Jones with 32 seconds left before the half.
It took just 56 seconds out of the break to put the game away.
Mose Frazier took a handoff out of the shotgun, glided to his left and then turned up field. He left one Kansas defender on the turf with a smooth cutback, and then out-raced the rest of the secondary on 60-yard scoring run that gave the Tigers a 31-13 advantage.
''When we got down like that,'' Frazier said of the start, ''we don't get down on ourselves.''
The Tigers put up three more touchdowns and a field goal against a Kansas defense that was repeatedly gouged by the Jackrabbits last weekend. In fact, things got so out of hand that Lynch sat the final 8 minutes as backup Clay Holgorson took over at quarterback.
By then, a decent crowd on a postcard-perfect evening must have decided to spend the rest of the night tailgating. There were as many empty seats in Memorial Stadium as full ones.
Cozart also took a seat late in the game. Deondre Ford finished it out for Kansas.
''No one is entrenched at any position, ever,'' Beaty said. ''That's not going to happen. He's still our starter, (but) we'll go back and look at this tape, evaluate that, and evaluate this week's body of work, and next week's body of work.''
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org