LAWRENCE — Matthew Wyman tried and failed to make the Kansas program as a walk-on kicker last year, and he wound up spending his first season on campus watching games from the student section.
He had a much better vantage point on Saturday.
Wyman was at the center of a wild celebration at midfield after connecting on a 52-year field goal with no time left, giving Kansas a dramatic 13-10 win over Louisiana Tech and ending a 22-game losing streak against teams from the Football Bowl Subdivision.
“It was weird knowing I was up there in the student section last year, cheering,” said Wyman, who was fourth on the depth chart at the start of fall camp before rising steadily to the top.
“I kind of had confidence in myself that one day I’d be kicking out there.”
Louisiana Tech (1-3) was poised to score the go-ahead touchdown when it marched to the Kansas 18 with 1:33 left. Kenneth Dixon got the carry and was fighting for extra yardage when the ball popped loose inside the 5-yard line, and the Jayhawks’ Keon Stowers recovered it.
That gave Kansas (2-1) the ball back with just enough time for Jake Heaps to get his team into scoring position. The BYU transfer hit three-consecutive passes, including a 29-yard strike to Tony Pierson, which allowed Wyman to have a shot at the game-winning field goal.
“I have a lot of confidence in the kid,” Kansas coach Charlie Weis said. “This is what the kid does every single day. He works on his field goals.”
Dixon’s fumble was the Bulldogs’ second inside the Kansas 5.
Ryan Higgins, starting in place of injured quarterback Scotty Young, lost the ball out of the end zone for a touchback earlier in the fourth quarter. Kansas answered with an 80-yard touchdown drive that Heaps finished with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jimmay Mundine that tied the game.
“Nobody feels worse in that locker room right now than Ryan Higgins and Kenneth Dixon,” Bulldogs coach Skip Holtz said, “and I don’t know that anybody competed any harder or stood up and played any better than those two outside of that one play.”
Heaps finished with 279 yards passing for the Jayhawks, who hadn’t defeated another FBS team since beating Northern Illinois on Sept. 10, 2011. Dixon finished with 129 yards rushing for the Bulldogs, while Higgins threw for 289 yards and a touchdown.
“It was just a couple of plays that hurt us,” Higgins said.
Both teams made some ugly plays in the first half. They combined to miss three field-goal attempts, the Jayhawks twice failed to convert on fourth down and Heaps was picked off.
The interception by Bulldogs safety Thomas McDonald gave Louisiana Tech the ball near midfield, and it took 10 plays before Higgins hit Hunter Lee for the score.
It was the third time in three games that Kansas fell behind early.
The Jayhawks tried to answer with a solid drive that fizzled once it made it to the Louisiana Tech 6, and Wyman missed a 28-yard field goal wide right.
Louisiana Tech squandered a chance to build on its lead when Kyle Fischer missed a 37-yarder, and Wyman later tacked on a 39-yard kick to get the Jayhawks within 7-3.
Fischer’s 40-yarder just before halftime also missed.
Fischer finally ended a 0-for-4 slide on field goals that dated to last week’s loss to Tulane when he hit from 39 yards early in the third quarter.
That gave the Bulldogs a 10-3 lead, though it seemed much greater than a touchdown the way their defense was playing.
“We played great,” said Bulldogs linebacker Daniel Cobbs, who had an interception late in the game. “Through three quarters they had three points. I think we played great as a unit.”
Cobbs’ pick gave Louisiana Tech the ball with a chance to pad its 10-3 lead, but that’s when Higgins fumbled out of the end zone. He was initially ruled out of bounds, and the call was overturned when a review by the officials showed he lost possession before stepping on the white paint.
It proved to be a critical point in the game.
Kansas finally put together its first touchdown drive of the game, tying the game and swinging the momentum into their corner. Then when Louisiana Tech fumbled again in the closing minutes, the Jayhawks offense was there to give Wyman a chance to be the hero.
“We practice that every day,” Pierson said. “We all knew it was going in.”
Kansas 13, Louisiana Tech 10
Louisiana Tech 7 0 3 0 — 10
Kansas 0 3 0 10 — 13
LaT—Lee 8 pass from Higgins (Fischer kick), :06.
KU—FG Wyman 39, 2:20.
LaT—FG Fischer 39, 12:55.
KU—Mundine 22 pass from Heaps (Wyman kick), 9:54.
KU—FG Wyman 52, :00.
First downs 29 20
Rushes-yards 32-154 33-117
Passing 289 279
Comp-Att-Int 35-55-1 28-46-2
Return Yards 24 0
Punts-Avg. 6-39.7 5-57.6
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 3-35 8-68
Time of Possession 31:08 28:52
RUSHING—Louisiana Tech, Dixon 18-129, King 5-20, Higgins 9-5. Kansas, Sims 20-78, Pierson 5-27, Heaps 3-7, Miller 3-3, Bourbon 2-2.
PASSING—Louisiana Tech, Higgins 35-55-1-289. Kansas, Heaps 28-46-2-279.
RECEIVING—Louisiana Tech, D.Banks 13-82, Griffin 6-49, Casey 4-40, Lee 4-30, Guillot 3-21, Tre.Taylor 2-54, J.Greenwalt 2-10, King 1-3. Kansas, Pierson 9-82, Bourbon 7-47, Mundine 2-31, Coleman 2-30, Matthews 2-24, Sims 2-24, Smiley 2-21, Ford 2-20.