David Beaty could not have asked for a better birthday present than a Big 12 win against TCU.
Although it came a day late, his players delivered him that gift with a 27-26 upset over the Horned Frogs, and it took every last second to secure the victory.
“I’m humbled to say we were able to get a victory over those guys,” the head coach said after the hard-fought victory. “We’ve had some great games with them over the last three or four years, and to be able to get over the hump, it took everything.”
“Everything,” as Beaty put it, included a fumble from TCU with under a minute remaining, where running back Darius Anderson hit offensive lineman Austin Myers in the butt to jar the ball loose.
BUTT FUMBLE! pic.twitter.com/CiY9OlZWOO
— We good? (@gifhawk) October 27, 2018
Everything included a self-induced safety from KU with seven seconds remaining after quarterback Peyton Bender ran to the end zone and chucked it out of bounds, but leaving a second on the clock. Everything included the free kick coverage team swarming to the ball to make sure TCU could not advance it on the final play.
Beaty even admitted they were not even trying to onside kick it on the final play, but his team executed.
“Games break one way or another, and to be on the side that it breaks for, it’s a little bit of a change and it’s exciting.” Linebacker Joe Dineen said after the game.
It was the Jayhawks first win against TCU since 1997 and their first conference win since Nov. 19, 2016 against Texas. Students stormed the field, and music blared in the locker room after the emotional win.
“It was insane,” Dineen said. “Two years ago we did it against Texas and it was crazy, but I didn’t get to play in that game. So it was really cool for me to get to play in a game and get a win, see the fans come down. It was an awesome feeling.”
Proud of this team fought hard all the way to the end GREAT TEAM WIN #RockChalk pic.twitter.com/bjwElov0yB
— Daniel wise (@wisejayhawk) October 28, 2018
Freshman standout Pooka Williams filled up the stat sheet again for the Crimson and Blue, but this time he showed off his receiving skills. Williams finished with seven catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead 28-yard score with 6:13. Williams also had 11 carries for 33 rushing yards.
“Give him the ball and space, he’s electric so you just got to watch out cause he make some things happen,” running back Khalil Herbert said about his backfield mate.
What a play by Kansas stud freshman Pooka Williams – and what a close call on the fumble. pic.twitter.com/zP8DJpKgcH
— Max Olson (@max_olson) October 27, 2018
“Going into this week, we thought we had a good matchup with Pooka and some of their linebackers,” Bender said. “In our game plan, we emphasized getting Pooka the ball in space one-on-one with those guys and we thought he would be able to beat them.”
Bender started under center for KU today, finishing 19-of-29 for 249 yards and two scores. Three different quarterbacks have started for this team this year, but Beaty said he never wavered from his decision to play Bender and knew he could finish the game.
“We will only get better from here,” Beaty said. “I think you saw a great improvement this week from him in terms of being able to understand even more about how the defenders were working and what he was supposed to do. I take my hat off to him because he takes an enormous amount of criticism but that comes with the territory when you’re the quarterback.”
Bender said he gained confidence knowing he was the guy for the whole game.
“It’s nice, in a way, to know in the back of your head that they’re going to be sticking with you, so there’s no pressure on every throw. I think it allows you to get into a rhythm and settle into the game and execute the offense how it’s supposed to be ran.”
TCU moved the ball on offense with 504 total yards on offense. Quarterback Michael Collins had 351 yards passing. Sophomore receiver Jalen Reagor hauled in eight catches for 177 yards and a touchdown.
However, the Horned Frogs failed to come away with points in critical drives. In the first quarter, KU stymied TCU on a goal line stand. In the first possession of the second half, Kansas stopped TCU and forced a quick punt. The Jayhawks would score on the next possession.
“A couple of our major goals are scoring or getting a three-and-out on the first drive of each half and we did that in the second half and I thought it set the tone for everything,” Beaty said.
The KU defense also forced two turnovers in the game.
Kansas improves to 3-5 on the season with a game against Iowa State in Lawrence next week. Beaty understands the importance of a big win and what it can mean for the program going forward.
“It means more for our kids, and our fans,” Beaty said. “For me, as a coach, I don’t get to live in that world. I get to live in the job at hand, but there are emotions that are attached to the people you care about, particularly the players who have taken some tough hits along the way that I’m not sure many kids could handle.”
“Anybody who is a Jayhawk, I’m happy for them, because that is ultimately why we are here.”