LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -- Jason Wright rushed for 196 yards and four
scores as Northwestern beat Kansas 28-20 on Saturday night, in a
sloppy season opener for both teams that was played in heavy rain.
The Jayhawks turned the ball over five times -- four in the first
half -- while the Wildcats lost the ball twice.
The loss was Kansas' first in a home opener in five years, and
dropped second-year coach Mark Mangino's record to 2-11 since
arriving in Lawrence.
Northwestern's mistakes helped Kansas recover from a 14-0
halftime deficit, but the Jayhawks were done in by their own
Leading 21-14, Northwestern punter Brian Huffman dropped a snap,
allowing Ronnie Amadi to block his kick. Darren Rus picked up the
ball and returned it for a touchdown.
But holder Curtis Ansel bobbled the snap on the point-after
attempt, leaving the Jayhawks down 21-20 with 5:03 remaining.
Northwestern recovered immediately, as Terrell Jordan scampered
40 yards to get the Wildcats close before another Kansas mistake --
this time an encroachment penalty on fourth down -- led to Wright's
fourth score of the game, putting Northwestern ahead 28-20.
The mistakes and missed chances -- including an apparent
third-quarter touchdown waived off when Mark Simmons came down out
of bounds in the back of the end zone that was followed up with a
field goal try that bounced off the left upright -- doomed the
The first serious rain in drought-stricken northeastern Kansas
in weeks began early in the day and grew into an unrelenting
downpour by the second quarter. It soaked the turf at Memorial
Stadium and left deep puddles on the sidelines and track
surrounding the field.
Torri Stuckey's interception of Bill Whittemore, and Marvin
Ward's of Brian Luke, led to both of Wright's first-half
Whittemore, last year's Big 12 newcomer of the year, finished
12-of-28 for 240 yards. Luke, meanwhile, went 1-of-2 with the
interception during a brief appearance late in the first half for a
Down 14-0 late in the third quarter, Kansas did manage to mount
a quick rally, scoring a pair of big-play touchdowns in 1:31 to tie
A scrambling Whittemore redeemed a busted play by finding
Simmons with a short pass, and Simmons sprinted 74 yards from one
sideline to the other to score. On Northwestern's ensuing
possession, defensive end David McMillan intercepted Brett
Basanez's pass and rumbled 31 yards to score.
Wright scored on a 1-yard run with 11:10 remaining to put the
Wildcats up 21-14.
Basanez was 23-of-36 for 219 yards with an interception for
Northwestern. Clark Green led Kansas with 79 yards rushing on 17