LAWRENCE, Kan. - Facing a nationally-ranked football team is always a daunting task. Doing so in front of a record-breaking attendance on the road against an FBS team is what the Northern Colorado football team had on its plate in the season-opener on Saturday. The Bears dropped a 49-3 decision at #25 Kansas in front of 52,530 blue and red clad fans.
The Jayhawks had four touchdowns in the first half and had three in the fourth quarter, while the Bears outscored KU 3-0 in the third quarter.
Senior quarterback Bryan Waggener completed 19-of-30 passes for 165 yards, hitting six different receivers, including both senior Alex Thompson and sophomore Patrick Walker five times each. Thompson led the way with 66 reception yards, while junior college transfer Andre Harris led the way with 22 rushing yards. Sophomore quarterback Dylan Orms was second on the squad with 21 yards on four carries.
Defensively, five Bears each had six tackles to share the team lead as Stephen Michon, Ethan Davis, Max Hewitt, Cameron Friend and Korey Askew each had a half-dozen stops. Hewitt also had two pass breakups on the evening.
"I was disappointed in the final score, but I thought that we played a lot of guys," said Northern Colorado Head Coach Scott Downing. "After going down 28-0, we came back in the second half and we won the third quarter 3-0. I think there are a lot of things we can obviously improve upon. We don't want to take anything away from Kansas because they're the 25th-ranked team in the country. They are a very good football team. I told our team that we'll go back home, watch the tape and learn from it. We had to play some young guys, but that's the nature of the game. We were able to play some freshmen and some redshirts. They got in the game and we got them some game time, so we'll see nothing but better things in the future."
Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing completed 13-of-20 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Kerry Meier had five receptions for a game-high 115 yards and running back Jake Sharp had 123 yards on the ground. The Jayhawks rushed for five touchdowns, with both Reesing and Toben Opurum rushing for two.
NC freshman John Burnley had three kickoff returns for 81 yards, including a long of 32 as he led the way with 80 all purpose yards.
Kansas scored on its opening drive, a 10-play, 67-yard drive lasting 4:50 for the early 7-0 lead.
The Bears started their second drive on their own 17-yard line and drove all the way to the KU 8, but were unable to capitalize as senior Michael York missed a 25-yard field goal wide to the right. The big play on the drive was a 36-yard completion from Waggener to Thompson as Thompson made a leaping catch despite being interfered with.
Waggener ended the first quarter 6-for-8 for 66 yards and rushed for 15 yards, while Thompson had two catches for 43 yards. Sharp led Kansas with 61 yards rushing on eight carries and Kerry Meier caught two passes for 37 yards. Both Michon and Hewitt had three tackles for the Bears.
With 13:42 on the clock in the second quarter, the Jayhawks added another touchdown, extending the lead to 14-0. Reesing scampered 13 yards for the touchdown, capping a nine-play, 80 yard drive that took 3:14. After a Northern Colorado punt, KU drove 59 yards in just 1:21 on four plays for the 21-0 score.
A 16-yard pass from Reesing to Tertavi Ingram after a lengthy scramble by Reesing added another seven to the KU tally for the score of 28-0. The drive went 76-yards on 12 plays in 5:26.
Reesing completed 9-of-15 passes in the first half for 128 yards and rushed for another 67, while Sharp rushed for 91 yards. The Bears were led by Robinson with 15 yards rushing, Thompson with 43 yards receiving and Waggener threw for 66 yards, completing 7-of-11 attempts. The Bears offense struggled in the second quarter, gaining just eight yards. Hewitt and Askew led the defense with five stops each.
Back-to-back penalties on Kansas during the Bears' opening drive in the second half in addition to a 21-yard completion from Waggener to Walker set up the 29-yard field goal by York for the 28-3 tally. The Bears drove 64 yards on seven plays in 2:27.
In the third quarter, Waggener completed 8-of-12 passes for 73 yards, bringing his total to 15-for-23 and 139 yards. The Bears also rushed four times for 22 yards gaining 95 yards of offense - matching their total from the first half. Kansas gained 117 yards of offense but was kept off the scoreboard.
Kansas scored with less than a minute off the clock in the final stanza, scoring on a one-yard rush by Sharp after the 71-yard pass from Reesing to Meier on the final play of the third quarter. Kansas added two more touchdowns late in the fourth quarter for the 49-3 final.