The Kansas Jayhawks picked up a new fan on their trip to the border – UTEP coach Mike Price.
Jake Sharp ran for 104 yards and scored three touchdowns while No. 24 Kansas got two big punt returns from Daymond Patterson to beat Texas-El Paso 34-7 on Saturday night.
Todd Reesing completed 25 of 41 attempts for 260 yards with one interception. He threw a 5-yard TD to Sharp and worked again with Dezmon Briscoe, who returned from a one-game suspension for violating team rules and had eight catches for 154 yards.
“What surprised us was that they were that good,” Price said. “They out-physicaled us. They hit us up the middle, and their running game is pretty good. Their whole scheme is pretty good. They’re a top 25 team, and it doesn’t look like we are.”
The Jayhawks (2-0) finished with 576 total yards. Their defense racked up five sacks while holding UTEP (0-2) to negative rushing yards until the closing minutes.
The biggest disappointments for Kansas? Failing to score more points and giving up a late touchdown.
“Usually when we put up those kinds of numbers we put a lot more points on the board,” Sharp said. “But we put up enough points to win, and our defense played great. They really played lights out. Football is special teams, offense and defense, and seeing those guys play well is awesome.”
The Miners, who finished with 4 yards rushing, avoided the shutout when Trevor Vittatoe found Donavon Kemp for a 75-yard catch-and-run with 12:39 remaining. But it was the fewest points for UTEP in Price’s six years in El Paso.
“We just weren’t playing the way we were supposed to,” Kemp said. “Too many penalties.”
Other than a Mariachi band performance at halftime, UTEP fans didn’t spend much time cheering anything.
One week after committing 12 penalties for 101 yards in an opening loss to Buffalo, UTEP was flagged 13 times for 137 yards. It’s the most penalties through the season’s first two games since 1965, as well as the most in consecutive games since 1986.
“You can’t expect to win like that,” Price said.
Vittatoe was 14-of-25 for 187 yards with one interception.
“They’re just a really good team,” Vittatoe said. “They really caught us off guard. It just seemed liked nothing was going our way.”
The Jayhawks weren’t perfect. Reesing got off to a slow start, kicker Jacob Branstetter was 2 for 4 on field goal attempts and Kansas struggled early to convert third downs, going 3 of 9 in the first half before rebounding to finish 9 of 18.
It didn’t matter.
Patterson set up a field goal with a 19-yard punt return in the second period and took another punt back 49 yards in the third just before Sharp’s final TD. Sharp ran through big holes all night, and his 3-yard burst put Kansas up 27-0 midway through the third period.
“They had a good punter. He put some good distance on the ball and gave me some room to do some things,” Patterson said. “The punt return team, our blockers, they did a heck of a job. They gave me some holes to make some long runs.”
The Jayhawks got rolling with a big second quarter, scoring 17 points to lead 20-0 at the break.
Sharp, who rushed for 123 yards in last week’s win over Northern Colorado, scored on a 1-yard plunge, then Branstetter made a 24-yard field goal for a 13-0 lead. Reesing placed a perfect pass over Sharp’s shoulder for a 5-yard TD play. That gave Reesing at least one TD pass in 20 straight games.
“The O-line, for the second week in a row, did real well,” Sharp said. “I’m really happy to be running behind those guys. Our defense is very strong. We’ve got hard-nosed guys. They had a great game today. They came together and really showed everybody how they can play.”
Kansas missed a chance to build the lead when Branstetter missed a 38-yard field goal attempt as the half closed.