Running back Pooka Williams Jr. made his freshman debut and gained 125 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns Saturday, as Kansas smothered Central Michigan 31-7 at Kelly Shorts Stadium in Mount Pleasant, Mich., to snap a 13-game losing streak.
The victory was the first in 50 games away from home for the Jayhawks (1-1) and ended a 46-game losing streak in true road games, the longest such skid in major-college history.
The last road victory for Kansas came at UTEP on Sept. 12, 2009, Mark Mangino’s last season as coach. The Jayhawks have since been directed by three coaches, with David Beaty (4-34) currently in his fourth season.
Defense keyed the uprising. Kansas allowed a first down on Central Michigan’s first possession. The Chippewas then went eight straight drives without a first down, committing two turnovers during that stretch.
After surrendering six turnovers in a season-opening loss to FCS Nicholls State, The Jayhawks forced six second-half takeaways.
Williams scored on rushes of 20 and 41 yards in a 75-second span of the third quarter as Kansas expanded a one-touchdown halftime lead to 21-0. The second touchdown came after an interception by senior linebacker Joe Dineen, who added 14 tackles.
Senior quarterback Peyton Bender earned his second win in 10 starts for Kansas and his first against an FBS opponent. Bender passed for 130 yards, going 17 of 26 with one touchdown.
Central Michigan (0-2), which played in bowl games each of the past four seasons, recorded its second first down midway through the third quarter as part of a 75-yard touchdown drive.
Sophomore quarterback Tony Poljan, who was intercepted four times, connected for a 31-yard scoring strike to junior receiver Jamil Sabbagh with 6:09 left, slicing the margin to 21-7.
The Chippewas were on the move to begin the fourth quarter, but Dineen pressured Poljan into an interception, which senior cornerback Shakial Taylor returned 55 yards as the Jayhawks went up 28-7. Poljan finished 18 of 32 for 177 yards passing.
Bender connected with wide-open Kerr Johnson for a 31-yard touchdown with 5:31 left in the second quarter to account for the Jayhawks’ 7-0 halftime lead.
—Field Level Media