Nov. 1, 1999

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Outstanding play against ´Huskers delights loyal fans

By Brad Hallier
Kansan Columnist

For one evening, the University of Kansas showed that it had potential to be a football school.

While thousands of red-clad Nebraska fans invaded Memorial Stadium on Saturday in anticipation of another lopsided win, Kansas students were thinking of which bars they were going to visit at halftime with the Cornhuskers winning 35-0.

But Kansas was holding its own early in the game. Both sides were exchanging punts. Kansas had some confidence.

Then came the blocked punt by Matt Jordan late in the first quarter that sailed out of the Nebraska end zone. Holy Columbus, Ohio! Kansas 2, Nebraska 0.

What a feeling that was. Now students were talking about the goal posts coming down.

After Kansas held Nebraska to a third consecutive three-and-out possession in the second quarter, Dylen Smith, who is looking more like Mark Williams every game, maneuvered the Jayhawks 79 yards on seven plays. The drive was capped by Smith avoiding a sack, rolling right and firing a bullet to a wide-open David Hurst for a touchdown.

The students were delirious with excitement. Kansas 9, Nebraska 0. The talk around the stadium included not only tearing down the goal posts but ripping up the turf.

Halftime came. Still 9-0. Nobody wanted to leave the stadium. The anticipation of an upset was evident.

Even though Lyndon Johnson was in the White House the last time Kansas had defeated Nebraska, Kansas fans believed.

But after a Josh Brown field goal put the ´Huskers on the scoreboard, Bobby Newcombe drove a stake into the heart of every Kansas fan with an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown. Nebraska 10, Kansas 9.

Early in the fourth quarter, Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch slipped into the end zone, giving Nebraska a 17-9 advantage.

Now the rout was on, right? Kansas´ offense was dead. The defense was wearing out. The students were filled with disappointment. But that disappointment quickly turned to ecstasy when Michael Chandler took a Smith pass and scampered 77 yards into the end zone. Chandler also caught the two-point conversion pass, and again the Jayhawk faithful were talking of the posts coming down, the turf coming up and the bleachers coming off.

The students weren´t alone. Coach Terry Allen looked like a crazed man, jumping up and down and waving his arms. Like the students, Allen was simply delirious with excitement. Students were hugging friends and strangers as if they were friends. Excitement didn´t even begin to describe how half the stadium felt with score deadlocked at 17. The other half was praying that their team would escape with a win.

And escape they did.

Newcombe caught a 49-yard pass late in the game, which would be the winning score. The Jayhawks were out of timeouts. But even when Smith took Kansas onto the field with less than a minute left, no timeouts and 71 yards to go, nobody lost the faith. As time expired, Kansas fans kept their heads high.

How close our football team came to winning and the excitement we experienced while the Jayhawks played their best football of the season made, for one night at least, Kansas a football school.

Hallier is a Mission senior in journalism.


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