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Junior wide receiver Stephon Robinson Jr. breaks loose down the field for a touchdown. The Jayhawks defeated the Red Raiders 37-34 Saturday, Oct. 26.

After falling into an early 17-point deficit, the Kansas football team stormed back and staged its largest comeback this season with a 37-34 victory over Texas Tech on a last second field goal. 

Carrying the momentum offensively from last Saturday’s showing against Texas, the Jayhawks opened the contest with a chance to prove to the conference it was no fluke. However, the first play from scrimmage did anything but that. 

As senior quarterback Carter Stanley faked a handoff to sophomore running back Pooka Williams Jr. and junior wide receiver Stephon Robinson Jr. on the end-around, Kansas attempted to catch the eighth-ranked passing defense in the Big 12 off guard.

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Kansas fans run out onto the field after the Jayhawks' 37-34 victory over Texas Tech Saturday, Oct. 26.

Firing deep to junior wideout Andrew Parchment in double coverage, the ball fluttered directly into the hands of Texas Tech senior defensive back Douglas Coleman III. Fortunately, the Jayhawks' defense managed to bail out the turnover, forcing the Red Raiders to punt inside Kansas territory at the 46-yard line.

The offense, however, struggled to discover the rhythm it displayed from the week before. After another scoreless possession on the Jayhawks’ side, Kansas lined up to punt again. With the ball dropping out of the sky and into the hands of Texas Tech freshman running back Chux Nwabuko III, Kansas senior safety Bryce Torneden laid a vicious hit, negating any opportunity of a return.

After reviewing the hit, it was determined Torneden led with the crown of his helmet, resulting in a targeting call and an ejection from the game. 

A few minutes later, Texas Tech broke through for the first points of the evening. Deciding to put faith in their rushing attack, the Red Raiders lined up to go for it on fourth-and-one from the one-yard line. Displaying an aggressive approach, the decision paid off as freshman running back SaRodorick Thompson muscled into the end zone to give the Red Raiders a 7-0 advantage. 

Down two starters in the secondary — one being Torneden and the other senior safety Jeremiah McCullough with a leg injury — Texas Tech began wearing down the Jayhawks’ defense. Following a 14-play, 74-yard drive, redshirt freshman kicker Trey Wolff put the Red Raiders up two scores on a 24-yard field goal. 

Just over six minutes later, Texas Tech junior quarterback Jett Duffey hit junior wide receiver McLane Mannix in the back of the end zone on a play-action pass from the Kansas 19-yard line. The score would put Texas Tech up 17-0 and have the Jayhawks on the ropes at the midway point in the second quarter. Needing points in any form, Stanley and the offense opened up their passing game. 

"We know we've been down before and we know we can comeback," Parchment said. "{Dearmon} just told us to wake up." 

Showcasing a 22-yard rush from Williams as its biggest offensive play of the night, Stanley dropped back to pass with the idea of surpassing that number. Airing it out deep over the middle of the field, Robinson snuck behind the Red Raider secondary and emerged without a defender within 15 yards. Having to slow up on the underthrown ball, the junior from Los Angeles hauled it in and dashed for the goal line. Resulting in a 53-yard gain, Robinson’s catch put the Jayhawks at the one-yard line. On the ensuing play, Stanley pushed forward on a quarterback sneak for Kansas’ first points of the game. 

On its next offensive possession, Kansas continued its success through the air. Looking to score quickly before the half, Stanley hurled a bullet into the chest of Robinson, again, who turned upfield and scurried into the end zone for a 48-yard catch and run. Riding the high of 14-unanswered, Kansas trailed by only three heading into the break. 

"{Dearmon} gives us a lot of confidence," Robinson said. "We believe in him. Whatever he calls, we are going to execute it." 

To start the second half, whatever momentum the Jayhawks held was dashed immediately. Taking just four plays and one minute, Texas Tech extended its lead to 10 on a 19-yard pass from Duffey to junior wideout T.J. Vasher. One possession later, Wolff tacked on three more from 27 yards out to push the lead to 27-14. 

Taking the field in desperate need of a score for the second time in the game, Kansas responded emphatically. Putting his faith in Robinson deep down the field for the third consecutive time, Stanley hooked up with the 5-foot-10 wideout for a 65-yard bomb. Sending the crowd into hysterics, Robinson trotted into the end zone for the second score in two quarters. 

Injecting life back into the crowd, the Jayhawk defense halted the Red Raider drive and forced Texas Tech to hand Kansas the ball back with a chance to tie. And that they did. 

Facing a third-and-21, Stanley extended the play and fired to Parchment beyond the first down marker toward the Kansas bench. Unsuccessful on the first attempt to open the game, the duo would connect without issue this time. Snagging it and keeping his feet in bounds, Parchment tip-toed down the sideline for a 70-yard touchdown. For the first time in the evening, the game was tied. 

That tie, however, would be short-lived. Texas Tech answered with a three-play, 75-yard drive — capped off by a 48-yard touchdown pass from Duffey to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Dalton Rigdon. 

Trailing 34-27, the Jayhawks would try and pull off what they could not last week. After a crucial third down stop from the defense, Kansas pulled off a 10-play, 70-yard drive that was finished off on a 32-yard touchdown run from freshman running back Velton Gardner to knot the score back up at 34. 

Contrary to the way things ended against Texas, it was Kansas getting the shot to win the game on its final possession.

"As soon as we got the stop and got the ball back, I already knew we were going to win," Parchment said. "Our offense is too electric." 

Driving the down the field in a two-minute drill, the Jayhawks lined up for a 40-yard field goal and the win. On the attempt, it was blocked and returned by Texas Tech.

However, amidst the chaos, the Red Raiders fumbled, and Kansas recovered with two seconds left.  

Pooka Williams, who was on the sideline at the time, was stunned by how the play unfolded. 

"I thought we were going to overtime," Williams said with a laugh. "If they kept the ball, we would've had to beat them in overtime." 

Lining back up for a 32-yard try, Jones would have a mulligan to end up on the right side of history. Before the kick, coach Les Miles tried to calm his nerves.

"I am not letting you kick this unless you smile," Miles said. 

Jones responded with reassurance. 

"I'll smile after I make this kick," Jones said

Shaking off the first blocked attempt, the junior knocked it home and gave the Jayhawks their first conference win of 2019 and under Miles.

Next week, Kansas will face Kansas State for the annual Sunflower Showdown. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 2.