Liberty Bowl- Ky Thomas TD celebration

Red-shirt sophomore running back Ky Thomas celebrates a touchdown in the first half of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee. 

With a winning season and the Bell Trophy on the line, Kansas football came up just short in a heartbreaking, triple overtime finish in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl against the Arkansas Razorbacks. 

The Razorbacks would hop on the board first off a 36-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Cam Little, but Kansas junior quarterback Jalon Daniels responded on the following drive, dotting a 29-yard pass to redshirt-sophomore running back Ky Thomas that was ran in for the touchdown. 

The early Kansas lead was short-lived, however. Redshirt-junior quarterback KJ Jefferson exploded in the first quarter to become the story for the Hogs early on, with three total touchdowns on 137 passing yards while rushing for an additional 55 yards in the first quarter. 

Jefferson was a star for the Hogs in 2022, producing 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions off 2,361 passing yards through 10 regular season games. 

The Razorbacks were able to jump out to a 10-point lead with just under six minutes to play in the first quarter, scoring on back-to-back drives. Following Jefferson’s first touchdown pass, Jayhawk redshirt-sophomore Sevion Morrison’s fumbled punt return was recovered by Arkansas’ Harper Cole at the Kansas 17. The following play, Jefferson completed a 17-yard pass up the middle to freshman Ty Washington for his already second touchdown on the day. 

Kansas couldn’t seem to catch a break in the first quarter. While aiming to regain momentum lost from two consecutive Hog touchdowns, Daniels, trying to connect with redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Lawrence Arnold, was intercepted by Arkansas freshman defensive back Quincey McAdoo. The drive resulted in yet another Razorback touchdown, and the first quarter ended with the Jayhawks fighting a 17-point deficit, 24-7. 

The second quarter didn’t start as Kansas would have hoped, either– Daniels opened up the quarter with another pick on the opening drive and then was later sacked by Terry Hampton. The Razorback defense was exceptional in the sack department all season, leading the Southeastern Conference and tying for fifth nationally in the stat with 39. 

Still, Daniels eventually connected with senior tight end Mason Fairchild for his second touchdown of the game. To shorten the gap a bit more, the Jayhawks attempted a two-point conversion but were unsuccessful. 

As the first half came to a close, the Hogs were threatening at the nine-yard line, but sophomore safety O.J. Burroughs came up huge for the Jayhawks with an endzone interception. Heading into the locker room with increased momentum, the first half ended with the Jayhawks trailing 31-13. 

The twenty minutes in the locker room appeared to have put life back into the Jayhawks, with the comeback being kickstarted by another Thomas touchdown in the third quarter, and the momentum carried on.

Two touchdowns within the final minute of the game brought the Jayhawks all the way back to tie the game at 38 a piece, just perfect to send the game into overtime. 

Back-and-forth touchdowns across two overtimes continued the dogfight, but Kansas couldn’t find success with the additional two-point in triple overtime and ultimately fell to the Razorbacks 55-53. The heartbreaking loss brings the Jayhawks’ season to a close, ending with a 6-7 record.