South Dakota State at Kansas

Kansas 31, S. Dakota State 17


LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Tony Pierson rushed for two touchdowns, Dayne Crist connected with former Notre Dame teammate Mike Ragone on a short touchdown pass, and Kansas launched the Charlie Weis era Saturday night with a 31-17 victory over South Dakota State.

Weis, a winner of three Super Bowls as a key assistant coach at New England and former head coach at Notre Dame, brings his considerable prestige to a program that won just five games the previous two seasons and ranked dead last in defense among major colleges last year.

His first game started with a jolt. Zach Zenner gave the Jackrabbits a 7-0 lead with a school-record 99-yard run.

Crist, who was recruited to Notre Dame by Weis and played for him until Weis was fired in 2009, was 17 for 36 for 169 yards. Pierson rushed for 124 yards and scored on runs of 3 and 47 yards.

The Jayhawks held a 24-7 lead with 5:29 left in the third after Crist tossed a 2-yard TD pass to tight end Ragone. But the Jackrabbits scored 10 straight points in the fourth quarter on Austin Sumner's 22-yard scoring pass to Tyler Kool and Justin Syrovatka's 25-yard field goal.

After Kansas' second possession, Ben Heeney downed a punt on the South Dakota State 1, putting huge pressure on the Jackrabbit offense.

But Zenner, who won the starting running back job in spring training, popped through a big hole up the middle, brushed off one would-be tackler and unfurled the longest run in South Dakota State's 115-year football history. Safety Bradley McDougald gave chase but stayed about 5 yards behind the 215-pound Zenner as they sprinted down the field.

Crist, just two days short of one year since he last started a game for Notre Dame, showed poise and a strong arm. On the initial play of the game, he hooked up with a wide open Kale Pick for a 43-yard gain. But on third-and-8 from the 17, he overthrew Ragone in the end zone and then Ron Doherty missed a 35-year-old field goal attempt. Crist, who earned his degree in management at Notre Dame in December, overthrew receivers in the end zone three times before Kansas settled for a 10-7 halftime lead.

Pierson boosted the lead to 17-7 when he bolted up the middle, juked defensive back Bo Helm and scored on a 47-yard run.

McDougald had two interceptions for the Jayhawks.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Scoring Summary
SDSTZach Zenner 99 yd run (Justin Syrovatka kick)
KANSASTony Pierson 3 yd run (Ron Doherty kick)
KANSASRon Doherty 22 yd FG
KANSASTony Pierson 47 yd run (Ron Doherty kick)
KANSASMike Ragone 2 yd pass from Dayne Crist (Ron Doherty kick)
SDSTTyrel Kool 22 yd pass from Austin Sumner (Justin Syrovatka kick)
SDSTJustin Syrovatka 25 yd FG
KANSASTaylor Cox 3 yd run (Ron Doherty kick)
Team Stats
First Downs1822
Third Down Efficiency3-145-17
Fourth Down Efficiency0-21-3
Plays-Net Yards73-41184-432
Passing Yds207169
Kick Return Yds1640
Punt Return Yds123
Time of Poss.27:5632:4
Individual Stats
SDST: Zach Zenner 23-183, Eric Kline 9-28, Austin Sumner 1--7
KANSAS: Tony Pierson 20-124, Taylor Cox 16-121, Brandon Bourbon 5-17, Daymond Patterson 2-6, Marquis Jackson 1-3, Team 2--2, Dayne Crist 2--6
SDST: Austin Sumner 14-31-175-4, Eric Kline 4-9-32-0
KANSAS: Dayne Crist 17-36-169-1
SDST: Tyrel Kool 8-76, Brandon Hubert 4-83, Zach Zenner 4-27, Jason Schneider 2-21
KANSAS: Kale Pick 5-81, D.J. Beshears 5-27, Daymond Patterson 4-44, Brandon Bourbon 1-12, Taylor Cox 1-3, Mike Ragone 1-2

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