LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Running back Jon Cornish rushed for a career-high 104 yards and three touchdowns as Kansas overcame an early Appalachian State University threat to defeat the Mountaineers, 36-8, on Saturday evening before 37,070 fans at KU's Memorial Stadium.
Appalachian appeared to be on its way to taking an early lead, as it drove 72 yards to the Kansas eight yard line on its very first series. However, sophomore running back Kevin Richardson coughed up the ball on first and goal, and KU linebacker Banks Floodman recovered it in the end zone for a touchback to stymie the Mountaineer threat.
After holding a 103-24 advantage in total yardage after their first two possessions, the Mountaineers were outgained 176-82 over the rest of the first half as Kansas opened up a 13-0 halftime lead.
Kansas started the scoring late in the first quarter, going 90 yards in six plays, capped by a three-yard touchdown run by Clark Green that gave the Jayhawks a 7-0 lead with just 32 seconds remaining in the opening period. A 59-yard completion from Brian Luke to Brian Murph and a 15-yard ASU personal foul following a third-down stop buoyed the KU scoring drive.
Kansas added to its advantage early in the second quarter, as Cornish scored from nine yards out to stretch the lead to 13-0. Kicker Scott Webb was wide on the PAT attempt.
Both teams squandered opportunities to score late in the first half, as Julian Rauch's 36-yard field-goal attempt bounced off the right upright for the Mountaineers and Appalachian's Brad West intercepted a Luke pass at the one yard line to stall a KU drive late and send the contest to halftime with the Jayhawks holding onto the 13-0 lead.
The third quarter was all Kansas, as it upped its advantage to 20-0 on the first series of the second half when Luke ran it in from one yard out on fourth and goal to cap a 14-play, 80-yard drive.
Staked to great field position by a 33-yard punt return by Charles Gordon, KU made it 26-0 on Cornish's second touchdown of the evening, a one-yarder with 2:40 remaining in the third period. KU's two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful, but the Jayhawks held a 10:15-4:45 advantage in time of possession to dominate the third quarter.
The Mountaineers got on the scoreboard on the first play of the final period, as first-team preseason all-Southern Conference honorees Richie Williams and Daniel Bettis hooked up for a six-yard touchdown pass. Williams found Bettis in the end zone again for the two-point conversion to cut the ASU deficit to 26-8.
However, KU needed just 33 seconds to answer the Apps' score, as Cornish gained all 75 yards on a four-play drive and punched across his third touchdown of the contest to give the Jayhawks a 33-8 lead.
Webb added a 34-yard field goal with 9:15 left in the contest to close out the scoring.
Despite the early miscue, Richardson turned in his finest performance as a Mountaineer, notching career highs with 67 rushing yards and 46 receiving. Williams connected on 18-of-25 passes for 159 yards, while true freshman T.J. Courman enjoyed an impressive collegiate debut with three receptions for 58 yards, including a 44-yarder from Williams on his first-career play.
Cornish's 104 yards came on just 10 rushes for Kansas (2-0). Luke went 17-for-26 for 212 yards and Murph hauled in four passes for 88 yards to help lead the Jayhawks' offensive effort.
Appalachian (1-1) opens its home season next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. when it welcomes defending Big South-champion Coastal Carolina to Kidd Brewer Stadium. The Chanticleers (2-0) make their first-ever visit to the High Country fresh off a 31-29 victory over defending national-champion James Madison. Tickets are still available by calling 1-800-919-APPS.