Kansas hasn’t won its Big 12 opener since 2009. This year, they came up just 12 yards short from victory.
Having just put together a 10-play, 70-yard drive that took a little over two minutes on its previous possession, the Kansas offense was red hot. But, down 29-24 with only three seconds left in the regulation, 48 yards away from the end zone, Kansas found itself in desperation mode.
Senior quarterback Carter Stanley steps to the line having just received the play call. Kansas’ coaching staff dials up the hook and ladder play — the one coach Les Miles said the team had executed several times in practice
Prior to the snap, junior receiver Andrew Parchment said he felt like “something special was going to happen.”
Stanley received the snap and immediately threw a crossing route to senior receiver Daylon Charlot. Charlot then flipped the ball to junior receiver Andrew Parchment.
“As soon as Daylon flipped me the ball, I felt like we were going to score,” Parchment said.
With plenty of space around him, Parchment ran up the sideline, attracting several West Virginia defenders before flipping the ball to star sophomore running back Pooka Williams Jr. Upon receiving the pitch, Williams said he saw open space.
“I saw a lot of grass, but at the same time, it was mostly we just ran out of space,” Williams said. “When AP tossed it to me, it was almost like he caught it on the sideline, and we just couldn’t make enough happen out of that.”
Parchment said the way West Virginia attacked him threw off the timing of the play.
“Number 28 for West Virginia showed up, and I wasn’t able to pitch the ball [to Pooka], so I had to wait a little bit,” Parchment said “Me waiting mixed up the timing, especially next to the sideline like that.”
In the open field, Williams’ combination of speed and shiftiness makes him a threat to score every time he touches the ball, let alone this one play. Parchment said if Williams would have had a little extra space, then Kansas would have won.
“I feel like whenever we have Pooka Williams in space, he’s going to make something happen," Parchment said. "If we had seven more yards of space on the football field, I feel like we would have scored that one.”
The final play of the game was symbolic of how the game really went. Up until the final horn sounded, coach Les Miles said he felt “like we were going to win.”
The Jayhawks finished with more yards and a greater yard-per-play average than the Mountaineers, yet they still fell what felt like inches short.
Despite the game not finishing how the Jayhawks envisioned it, Kansas fans still showed their support. 35,816 people were in attendance — the highest number of the season thus far. And, after the last play failed, Kansas faithful gave their team a standing ovation.
The moment was special. Parchment, who had been at two other colleges before coming to Kansas, said he had never had a crowd give him a standing ovation after a loss before.
“You don’t see a lot of fans give a team a standing ovation win or lose, especially in that fashion,” Parchment said.
Stanley, who’s suffered multiple fan-dismissing blowouts in his four years at Kansas, said the fans’ support “means the world” to him and his teammates. When asked about why he felt the fans gave the team a standing ovation, Stanley nearly broke into tears.
“I think they see the fight [in this team].” Stanley said. “I’m not into moral victories at all, but I think they see the progress.”