LAWRENCE, Kan. — Grayson McCall threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more scores, Coastal Carolina forced Kansas into three early turnovers and the Chanticleers rolled to a 38-23 victory early Sunday to cap a big weekend for the Sun Belt.
Earlier on Saturday, Louisiana bludgeoned No. 23 Iowa State and Arkansas State rallied to beat Kansas State. That made their lightly regarded league 3-0 against the mighty Big 12 with all of the Sun Belt’s wins coming on the road.
There were no fans inside Memorial Stadium for the Jayhawks‘ opener because of the coronavirus pandemic. Then again, considering they trailed 28-3 at halftime, there probably wouldn’t have been many left under normal circumstances — and combined with the 9 p.m. kickoff due to television, it meant few people probably saw it.
Miles Kendrick threw a touchdown pass in relief of Thomas MacVittie, who appeared to leave with a shoulder injury, and Velton Gardner had a 61-yard TD run as the Jayhawks tried to rally in the second half. But the Chanticleers answered the back-to-back touchdowns with McCall’s second on the ground to put the game away.
Coastal Carolina, which beat the Jayhawks 12-7 last season, certainly proved that result was no fluke.
After picking off MacVittie on the game’s opening series, the Chanticleers ran nine out of 10 times in barreling 62 yards for their first touchdown. Kansas fumbled the ball right back two plays later, and McCall threw a touchdown pass to defensive tackle C.J. Brewer in a call that even fooled their own radio announcers.
The Chanticleers followed a punt by Kansas with a third consecutive TD drive. This time, they took advantage of a personal foul penalty, an offsides call and a pass interference penalty by hapless Kansas to extend their lead to 21-0.
Coastal Carolina capitalized on another interception to tack on a 25-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of the half.
Jayhawks coach Les Miles, trying to build on three wins in his first season, must have had plenty to say in the locker room. They didn’t run out of the tunnel until there was less than a minute left before the second-half kickoff.
The pep talk appeared to work, and Kansas trimmed its deficit to 28-17 heading into the fourth quarter. But McCall hit tight end Isaiah Likely with two long passes to set up the touchdown that clinched the game.
Coastal Carolina looked a lot more like Palmetto State powerhouse Clemson than a school playing just its third season as a full-fledged FBS member. The Chanticleers had three sacks, 10 tackles for loss and dominated the line of scrimmage.
Kansas: Things were so embarrassing for the Jayhawks that nobody seemed to blink when MacVittie entered the game with his name misspelled on the back of his jersey. It was missing the second “i.”
Kansas, which confirmed three positive COVID-19 tests this week, had nearly 40 players that did not dress for undisclosed reasons. Starting wide receiver Stephon Robinson Jr. and top tight end Jack Luavasa were among them.
Coastal Carolina plays its home opener Friday night against Campbell. The game was added less than a month ago to give the Chanticleers an 11-game schedule. The Fighting Camels lost to Georgia Southern earlier Saturday.
Kansas has a week off before starting Big 12 play Sept. 26 at Baylor. The Bears, whose opener was scuttled when Louisiana Tech had a COVID-19 outbreak, open their season in a hastily scheduled game against Houston next Saturday.