The Jayhawks delivered the final blow with 27 seconds left. Facing a fourth down and eight, quarterback Todd Reesing stepped up in the pocket and lofted a pass over the shoulder of Kerry Meier, who took the final few steps into the end zone. Kansas safety Phillip Strozier then blocked a 54-yard Jeff Wolfert field goal on the game’s final play to avoid overtime.
The attendance for the second Arrowhead edition of the Border War was listed at 79,123, but many were dressed as empty seats as snow flurries hit the field.
The fans who did attend saw Kansas hop on the scoreboard first after Darrell Stuckey intercepted Chase Daniel’s third pass of the game and ran it back to the Missouri 20. Three plays later, Jacob Branstetter kicked a 34-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead. The Jayhawks added to that lead just after the start of the second quarter when Reesing hit Dezmon Briscoe on a screen pass that the sophomore receiver ran in for a nine-yard score.
Missouri responded quickly following a long catch-and-run by Jeremy Maclin. A few plays later, Daniel located 6-foot-6 tight end Chase Coffman working against 5-9 cornerback Daymond Patterson in the end zone for the Tigers’ first points of the game.
Daniel would then be responsible for the next Kansas score. After punter Alonso Rojas pinned the Tigers at the three-yard line, Jake Laptad swarmed over Daniel, forcing the quarterback to throw the ball to the ground. But no receivers were around the ball, and Daniel was slapped with an intentional grounding penalty, and a safety.
The play was a big one – Kansas took the ensuing possession down the field and scored on a blown coverage when Reesing saw Dexton Fields running all alone down the middle of the field for a 25-yard touchdown.
Missouri added a late score before the half when Wolfert connected on a 48-yard field goal.
The Jayhawks took their largest lead of the game at 26-10 just after the half when Jake Sharp burst in from 19 yards out.
That margin would be short-lived. The Tigers scored just three minutes later when Maclin juked a defender, caught a pass and outran the coverage for a 26-yard touchdown.
Trailing 26-16, the Tigers elected to go for two points to make it a one score game. But that attempt failed when Daniel failed to hook up with Danario Alexander on a fade route.
The Tigers got the ball back quickly after defensive tackle Jaron Baston tipped, then intercepted a Reesing pass over the middle, giving the Tigers the ball at the 35. They scored on the very next play, when Daniel hit a wide open Tommy Saunders down the sidelines, cutting the Kansas lead to three.
It took more than a quarter for the next score to come, this one giving Missouri its first lead of the game. Driving 79 yards, the Tigers broke into the lead with a six-yard pass from Daniel to Coffman.
From that point, the teams traded scores, with Kansas getting the last laugh. The Jayhawks regained the lead on an eight-yard pass from Reesing to Meier. That was set up by a 40-yard kickoff return by Briscoe and 31-yard pass from Reesing to Marcus Herford.
The Tigers roared back, scoring with 1:50 left in the game on a Derrick Washington six-yard run. That gave the Tigers a 37-33 edge and set the stage for the Reesing-led comeback.
Reesing hit Sharp for 12, then Meier for gains of 11, six, nine and 3. The next two passes, intended for Briscoe fell incomplete, and the Jayhawks, facing a fourth and seven, called timeout. Then, on fourth down, Reesing felt pressure from the edges and stepped up, before hitting Meier for the game’s final points.
The Tigers weren’t finished though. Daniel found receiver Jared Perry on a crossing route for 25 yards, taking the ball to the Kansas 36. Two plays later, the Missouri brought in Wolfert, who entered the game as the NCAA career leader in kicking accuracy. But this attempt never had a chance. Strozier tipped it at the line, and the Jayhawks held on for the victory.
Reesing finished the game 37 of 51 for 375 yards and four touchdowns. He did throw two interceptions. His primary target was Meier, who had 14 catches for 106 yards and the two fourth quarter touchdowns. Dexton Fields had seven catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. Briscoe had 310 all-purpose yards – he had 195 kick return yards to go with his nine catches for 115 yards through the air. He added a touchdown.
Daniel completed 25 of 41 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns to go with two interceptions. He added 103 yards on nine carries on the ground. Maclin had nine catches for 123 yards and a touchdown and 32 yards on three carries on the ground. The Jayhawks were able to keep the ball away from Maclin in the return game – Maclin finished with 86 yards on four kick returns and had no punt returns. Coffman and Saunders combined for 10 catches, 101 yards and three touchdowns.
The victory gave Kansas seven wins on the season and moved them to 4-4 in the Big 12. For the second consecutive year, the Jayhawks were 4-1 against the Big 12 North. Missouri fell to 9-3 with the loss, including 5-3 in conference. They’ll get another shot in Arrowhead in a week, facing whoever comes out of the Big 12 South. If Oklahoma defeats Oklahoma State, the south winner will be announced Sunday when the BCS ratings come out.
- Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing broke his own school records for season completions (302), attempts (460) and passing yards (3,575). He also broke his own record for total offense in a season with 3,761 yards and tied his school record for 200-yard games in a season with 10. He has thrown a touchdown in 17 consecutive games.
- How’s this for a neutral field? The Jayhawks’ win Saturday meant that the supposed road team won each of the first two games at Arrowhead. The Tigers captured the game that would have been in Lawrence last year by a 36-28 margin. The series is scheduled to continue until 2012.
- Kansas coach Mark Mangino said after the game that it was the gutsiest win he had seen. Considering Darrell Stuckey made what Mangino called the gutsiest play he had seen earlier this year by running down Louisiana Tech speedster Phillip Livas, it made sense for Stuckey to play a key role in the game. Stuckey tracked down Chase Daniel from behind on a 48-yard run in the first quarter and stripped the ball from behind, then recovered the fumble. The junior safety also picked off two passes, one in the first quarter and one in the third.
- The victory brought Mangino to 4-3 in his seven years against the Tigers, including four of the last six. All of the games, with the exception of the last two, were separated by double-digit margins. This year’s senior class was 2-2 against Missouri, or 3-2 if you count a redshirt year.
Kansas – Jacob Branstetter 34 FG, 13:06 1Q
KU – Dezmon Briscoe 9 pass from Todd Reesing (Branstetter kick), 14:25 2Q
Missouri – Chase Coffman 5 pass from Chase Daniel (Jeff Wolfert kick), 10:19 2Q
KU – Intentional grounding (Jake Laptad sack of Daniel) results in safety, 6:16 2Q
KU – Dexton Fields 25 pass from Reesing (Branstetter kick), 1:54 2Q
MU – Wolfert 48 FG, 0:23 2Q
KU – Jake Sharp 19 run (Branstetter kick), 10:29 2Q
MU – Jeremy Maclin 26 pass from Daniel (pass failed), 8:14 3Q
MU – Tommy Saunders 35 pass from Daniel (Wolfert kick), 7:17 3Q
MU – Coffman 6 pass from Daniel (Wolfert kick), 6:52 4Q
KU – Kerry Meier 8 pass from Reesing (Branstetter kick), 4:26 4Q
MU – Derrick Washington 6 run (Wolfert kick), 1:50 4Q
KU – Meier 26 pass from Reesing (Branstetter kick), 0:27 4Q