Jake Heaps made his second start for Kansas on Saturday night, as the Jayhawks traveled to Houston to take on the Rice Owls. Rice was playing their second game of the season coming off a bye week after losing to top ten ranked Texas A&M in week one.
Rice was well prepared for the Jayhawks and that showed through very early in the game.
Rice was able to score midway through the first quarter on an impressive defensive play by Michael Kutzler. Kutzler jumped a route and was able to get a hand on a pass thrown by Heaps. He was able to corral the ball as it came down and returned it 52 yards for the score.
Heaps and the KU offense wasn’t in sync at all in the first quarter as they only tallied two first downs. Including a drop, Heaps completed four of his eight passes for 17 yards and the pic six.
The second quarter started out with much more promise for the Jayhawks offense. They started their first drive with five straight running plays including two keepers from Heaps on the read option. On play number six the Jayhawks struck pay dirt as Heaps delivered an eight yard strike to Tony Pierson, who broke a tackle and scampered 77 yards and the score.
The following drive failed for the Kansas offense when starting tight end Jimmay Mundine dropped a routine pass that would’ve been a first down.
On their third drive of the second quarter, the Jayhawks only had the ball for one play. Heaps took a shot down field but was intercepted by Bryce Callahan at the rice 18 yard line.
The Kansas defense kept them in the game, only allowing two field goals in the first half and leaving Rice with a 13-7 lead going into the break.
The third quarter didn’t start great as Heaps was nearly intercepted on his first throw of the second half and the Jayhawks settled for a three and out. The defense was able to stop Rice once again as Ben Heeney had a massive sack to stifle a Rice drive. The two teams then traded short drives before the Kansas was able to create a sustained drive. They marched down the field on the strength of a 39 run by James Sims before missing a 47 yard field goal attempt.
On the ensuing drive, Kansas got a huge break as Strong safety Isaiah Johnson intercepted a poorly thrown ball by Rice quarterback Taylor McHargue and returned it all the way to the Rice 16 yard line. Kansas scored four plays later on a one yard sneak by Heaps. The touchdown run was Heaps’ first as a member of the Jayhawks.
After Rice scored ten quick points to take a 23-14 lead, Kansas had an opportunity to answer before Mundine dropped what looked to be a sure touchdown on a post route with 2:20 left in the game.
The Jayhawks got the ball back one more time but had just over a minute to work before the game clock ran out for their first loss of the season.
For the night, Heaps completed just 13 of 28 passes for 157 yards and one touchdown while throwing two interceptions. Heaps also registered 11 carries for -26 yards (including sacks) and a touchdown.
Although the Jayhawks lost, Heaps looked much better than his stats showed as a passer. He was able to stand in the pocket and deliver a number of good passes, although a good number of them were dropped. Heaps was also more confident with his legs than I have ever seen him. He was willing to keep the ball on the read option and created plenty of time with his scrambling ability.
Up next for Kansas is 1-2 Louisiana Tech at home in Lawrence next Saturday and another chance for Heaps and the Jayhawks to double their win total from last season. Louisiana Tech, a member of Conference USA is coming off a 24-15 loss on Thursday the 12th to Tulane.