Kansas coach Lance Leipold jogged to the locker room at halftime with a hearty grin. And who could blame him. The Jayhawks (2-0) gave Leipold plenty to smile about on Friday night,
dominating all facets of the game early. Then, KU withstood a late Illinois rally to win 34-23 in a prime-time matchup at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
“It was a good performance,” Leipold said. “I think there’s a part of that second half where momentum gets away from (us) ...
but I think when I watch the game tomorrow I’ll appreciate the effort and getting the turnovers.”
Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels finished 21-of-29 passing for 280 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. KU running back Devin Neal added one touchdown while running for 120 yards.
Daniels missed KU’s opening game against Missouri State due to back issues, and there wasn’t any actual confirmation he would play against Illinois.
So naturally, the Jayhawks used that to their advantage. The Jayhawks started their first offensive drive with some trickery — Daniels and backup Jason Bean,
who started the opener, lined up next to each other. But Daniels took the snap, faked to Bean and then converted a 10-yard pass to KU wide receiver Lawrence Arnold.
The offense was off and running. Daniels led a 10-play, 82-yard touchdown drive that put Kansas up 7-0. KU scored another two touchdowns before Illinois even got on the board.
Later, the Jayhawks needed all of 36 seconds to drive 75 yards in four plays and end the half with a 28-7 lead. Illinois (1-1) showed signs of life in the second half.
After two KU drives ended in field goals, Illinois answered with two straight touchdowns and converted both 2-point plays to cut Kansas’ lead to 11 (34-23).
With Illinois marching down the field late in the fourth quarter, Kansas cornerback Kwinton Lassiter ended the comeback bid with an interception —
his second in two games. Kansas will travel to Reno to play Nevada next Saturday. Here are three takeaways from the Jayhawks’ Game 2 win ...
1. Jalon Daniels doesn’t miss a beat. Jalon Daniels is a magician. 2. KU defense impresses 3. Kansas wins line-of-scrimmage battles