Lance Leipold, the coach of Kansas, has always had his eyes set on the future: the upcoming game, the upcoming Memorial Stadium renovations, the future prospects of a team that has been languishing for a long time.
“It’s time,” Leipold said after a 38-33 win over No. 6 Oklahoma on Saturday, “for me to start talking about how far we’ve come.”
With 55 seconds remaining, Devin Neal ran for 112 yards and the game’s winning touchdown. Dillon Gabriel of the Sooners then completed an incomplete pass to the end zone on the game’s final play, leaving Kansas fans—finally experiencing some success after witnessing so many unsuccessful teams over the years—to storm the field and celebrate one of the biggest victories in school history.
In their last game before leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, the Jayhawks defeated Oklahoma, ending an 18-game losing streak, and they triumphed over their highest-ranked opponent since winning the 2008 Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech.
Additionally, the supporters destroyed the goalposts and threw them into Potter Lake.
“This is a huge moment for this team,” said Jason Bean, starting once again in place of injured quarterback Jalon Daniels.
It appeared as though the Jayhawks (6-2, 3-2 Big 12) had lost when Bean threw an interception with 2:29 left in the game, trailing 33-32. However, their much-improved defense forced Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1) to punt, and after two completions and a 37-yard touchdown pass on fourth down, Neal raced in from 9 out to give Kansas the lead back against what seemed to be a split defense.
Additionally, it gives Oklahoma’s offense another opportunity to get the ball.
With 24 seconds remaining, Gabriel found Brenan Thompson on a 39-yard throw that put them at the Kansas 34. On the last play of the game, the quarterback who had been almost flawless the whole season threw high to the end zone to start the field-storming celebration after a short pass to Jovantae Barnes and an incomplete pass.
“I got caught in a whole bunch of students,” Leipold said. “I hope nobody gives me a breathalyzer just off the fumes out there.”
Bean ran for 62 yards and a touchdown while throwing for 218 yards and two interceptions. For the Jayhawks, who had not defeated Oklahoma since October 4, 1997, Daniel Hishaw also scored two touchdown runs.
Tawee Walker ran for 146 yards and a touchdown, and Gabriel finished with 171 yards passing and three touchdown runs. Despite this, the Sooners were left to regret too many wasted opportunities and the end of their unbeaten season.
For the Jayhawks, it had been a dismal Homecoming until the fourth quarter.
Memorial Stadium was crowded to capacity early for Fox’s pregame show, and as the rain started to fall after kickoff, many began to get wet. A delay of almost one hour occurred due to lightning striking the sky in the middle of the second quarter. And just about half of the crowd remained when the game eventually resumed, with a sizable number of them yelling “Boomer Sooner.”
The Kansas supporters who persevered were in for a delightful experience.
After Hishaw’s first touchdown run and a pick-six by Mello Dotson, the Jayhawks had gone out to a 14-0 lead. However, the Sooners, who were having trouble playing without Marcus Major due to an injury, quickly got going.
After the Jayhawks mishandled the kickoff, Gabriel’s second touchdown run gave Oklahoma 21 straight points.
But the seesaw business was only getting underway.
When the Jayhawks capitalized on a fumble and Bean raced 38 yards for a score in the third quarter, they were within 21–20. After a 75-yard touchdown drive by the Sooners to tie the game at 26, the Jayhawks took advantage of three personal penalties, one of which was committed by the Oklahoma bench for arguing about the opening one, to take a 32-27 lead.
After the Sooners mishandled the next kickoff, Kansas came dangerously close to having two possessions in the fourth quarter. However, a holding penalty reversed Hishaw’s 20-yard touchdown run, and Seth Keller missed a 42-yard ( goal attempt.
The Sooners took advantage of the situation. Bean’s ball was intercepted by Billy Bowman at the Kansas 14 after their defenders got a hand on it. With 5:22 remaining, Gabriel’s goal less than two minutes later gave them a 33-32 advantage.
There’s plenty of time for the Jayhawks to mount a strong defensive effort and score one more touchdown.