EZ Mortgages

Kansas – Craig Keenan passes for 349 yards

// Nov 3 - 1984

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 November 3rd – Boulder           Kansas 28, Colorado 27

The Buffs were entitled to a break after facing two top ten teams.

Normally, Kansas would provide just such an opportunity. Even during the drought years of 1979-83, Colorado did manage to win three of five games against the Jayhawks, including the previous two contests. Third year coach Bill McCartney was undefeated against only one conference opponent – Kansas. With two decent performances against top opponents in the bank, it was time to feast on a 3-5 Jayhawk squad.

Problem was that someone forgot to remind Kansas that they were the Buffs’ source of redemption.

Fact was that one of the Jayhawks three wins had come the previous week against a top ten opponent – Oklahoma. Second year head coach Mike Gottfried (later of ESPN fame) had the Jayhawks believing – believing to the point where they had humbled the Sooners, 28-11. Yes, it was true that starting Oklahoma quarterback Danny Bradley had been injured and unable to play, but the win had been no fluke.

The day began as well as the Colorado and their fans could have hoped.

To the delight of the 33,166 who bothered to attend, the Buffs took the opening kickoff down the field, setting up a 50-yard field goal by Dave DeLine. For an encore, the offense drove 67 yards in 11 plays, with quarterback Craig Keenan scoring on a five-yard run. With almost five minutes still remaining in the first quarter, Colorado was on top, 10-0.

Colorado was unable to handle prosperity, though. Unfamiliar with holding a lead, the Buffs allowed Kansas to take a 13-10 halftime edge.

Undaunted, the Buffs dominated the third quarter, and when DeLine pushed through his second field goal of the day from 29 yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter, Colorado was on top 27-16. The Buffs were up 11 points, with 14:57 to go.

Quarterback Craig Keenan had finally hit his stride, completing 21-of-32 passes for 349 yards and two scores, becoming only the third quarterback in Colorado history to eclipse the 300 yard mark. Tight end Jon Embree had his third 100+ receiving game, hauling in eight passes for 138 yards. For his part, split end Loy Alexander had his first 100+ yard day since the 1983 opener against Michigan State, collecting seven passes for 118 yards.

For once, the offense had clicked. As often is the case with losing teams, though, the defense, which had played inspired football against Nebraska and Oklahoma State, faltered. Aided by a Lee Rouson fumble in Colorado territory, the Jayhawks required only four minutes of game clock to regain the lead, 28-27.

Down one with time still to play, the Buffs once again had their chances to pull out a victory.

Chances, as in plural.

After the Kansas score, the Buffs drove to the Jayhawk 24-yard line. On second down, Keenan floated a pass to the end zone, where freshman Jo Jo Collins waited. Collins couldn’t hold on, though, and kicker Dave DeLine was called in. DeLine, who had been consistent as the replacement for Larry Eckel, missed from 43 yards. Kansas ball.

The defense held, and the Kansas punter shanked the punt. The Buffs took over at the Jayhawk 45 yard line with still 4:00 minutes to go. Keenan led the Buffs down to the 16-yard line before the drive stalled.

DeLine, and the entire Buff season, could be redeemed with a 33-yard field goal. A second win was in the cards.

This was 1984, though, and it was just not meant to be. The snap was bobbled by holder Derek Marshall, and DeLine never got the chance to kick. Kansas recovered and ran out the clock.

The Jayhawks, who had been picked to finish last in the Big Eight, picked up their third conference win of the year. The Buffs, who were to face their third top ten team in a month the next week against Oklahoma, fell to 1-8 on the year.

Game Notes –

– The Buffs 27-16 lead represented the largest lead – 11 points – the Buffs would have over any opponent at any time during all of the 1984 season.

– Kansas scored two touchdowns in just 64 seconds early in the fourth quarter, aided by a Lee Rouson fumble in between scores. After each score, the Jayhawks went for a two-point conversion, but failed on both attempts.

– The 349 yards passing by Craig Keenan was the second-highest single game effort in school history, second only to the 361 yards passing by Randy Essington against Nebraska in 1982.

– The 133 yards receiving by tight end Jon Embree and the 118 yards receiving by Loy Alexander represented the 10th- and 11th-best receiving efforts in school history. Embree would go on to set the new school standard for receiving yards, with 680, with Ron Brown right on his heels with 673 yards. Alexander’s 496 yards in 1984 marked the fifth-highest total in school history.

– With receivers posting the first, second, and fifth highest totals in school history, it is not surprising that in 1984, Colorado set a new standard for passing yards in a season, with 2,571, a 233.7 yard average.

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