BYU Overwhelmed By Kansas As Cougars Fall In Big 12 Conference Debut

Sep 23, 2023, 5:17 PM | Updated: Sep 25, 2023, 2:27 pm

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The BYU football team suffered its first loss of the 2023 season in the Cougars’ Big 12 Conference opener against the Kansas Jayhawks.

The Jayhawks hosted the Cougars at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium (Capacity: 47,233) in Lawrence, Kansas on Saturday, September 23.

BYU fell to Kansas, 38-27.

First Quarter

The uniqueness of the Kansas offense was on full display in the opening drive as KU QB Jalon Daniels got to work early. They moved the ball on BYU’s defense into Cougar territory, but the drive stalled after a false start call on Jayhawk OL Michael Ford Jr.

Kansas went for it on a 4th & 6 and BYU linebacker Ben Bywater came up with a pass breakup to stop the drive.

Two plays later, Kansas ended BYU’s opening series in the Big 12 Conference as Kansas DB Cobee Bryant blew up wide receiver Parker Kingston. The hit jarred the ball loose from Kingston, Bryant got back up off the turf, scooped up the ball, and then ran it back for a 22-yard touchdown.

Kingston left the game and went to the locker room after that hit.

BYU’s offense stormed back moving up-and-down on the Jayhawk defense that ended with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Darius Lassiter. Lassiter is playing for the first time on the same field that his father, Kwamie Lassiter, played on as a star at KU in the 1990s.

Kansas QB Jalon Daniels manufactured a 90-yard drive with ease on the next possession as he capped it off with a 15-yard touchdown. That grab gave KU a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Second Quarter

BYU QB Kedon Slovis then led an impressive drive of his own with a 13-play, 75-yard drive that was closed out with a 10-yard touchdown pass screen to freshman running back LJ Martin.

During that touchdown drive, BYU picked up a 4th & 1 near midfield that was a tough run by Martin.

The defenses then tightened up for a moment in the game. BYU forced Kansas into a rare punt. Star linebackers AJ Vongphachanh and Ben Bywater came up with tackles for loss then Kamden Garrett forced a pass breakup stopping the Kansas drive.

BYU brought the pressure on the obvious passing down for Kansas.

The Cougar offense started the following possession on its own 41 but couldn’t capitalize as they were forced into a three-and-out that only went backward. On the drive, BYU starting offensive lineman Weylin Lapuaho appeared to be nursing his left elbow as team trainers immediately looked at him on the sideline.

Bywater answered the call again for the BYU defense coming up with a sack on Jalon Daniels.

BYU then put together a gritty drive that ended in a field goal from 33 yards out by Will Ferrin to take its first lead of the game.

Third Quarter

Kansas looked like a new team that made the necessary adjustments to attack BYU. On the opening play of the quarter, Kedon Slovis nearly tossed a pick-six after O.J. Burroughs made a break on the ball.

Two plays later, a Kedon Slovis pass intended for Isaac Rex bounced around and landed in the hands of Kenny Logan Jr. for a pick-six. It was the second defensive touchdown for Kansas on the day.

Things went from bad to worse for BYU as Kingsley Suamataia appeared to be nursing his right leg. He was being looked at by team trainers.

The Cougar offense was still able to move down the field thanks to a 50-yard grab for Chase Roberts to set up a 34-yard field goal by Will Ferrin.

Kansas began overwhelming the BYU defense. Jalon Daniels made plays with his feet then closed out a 75-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown catch from Luke Grimm to lead 28-20.

BYU got into Kansas territory but the drive stalled after Kedon Slovis tossed another interception on a 4th & 7 from the Kansas 32-yard line.

Fourth Quarter

Kansas stretched its lead to two scores during the opening minutes of the final quarter. With 13:36 to play, Grimm hauled in his second touchdown of the day on a 13-yard pass from Daniels. After a PAT, the Jayhawks took a 35-20 lead.

Five and half minutes later, BYU cut into Kansas’ lead with a jet sweep run by Keelan Marion.

However, the Cougar defense wasn’t able to get off the field in the final minutes of the game. Kansas kicked a field goal with 96 seconds remaining to seal the game.

BYU turned the ball over on downs in the final minute and Kansas finished the contest in victory formation.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Overwhelmed By Kansas As Cougars Fall In Big 12 Conference Debut