All season long, the Kansas Jayhawks persevered by doing all of the little things right.
They didn’t turn the ball over, and the Jayhawks took advantage of about every opportunity in front of them. In Saturday night’s 36-28 loss to the Missouri Tigers in front of 80,537 fans at Arrowhead, the second-most ever to watch a game in stadium, the Jayhawks dropped their first game of the year by doing the little things wrong.
Kansas missed opportunities to score on four straight possessions where the Jayhawks took the ball inside the Missouri 30, including trips to the MU 26, 17, 16 and 16-yard line. Those drives ended with two Todd Reesing interceptions and two Scott Webb field goal misses – devastating missed chances what turned out to be a close game.
At the start, both teams were awkward. Neither team seemed to be used to such a big stage, and it showed early as both squads came out tight, punting back and forth.
Missouri had the best opportunity early. Jeremy Maclin returned a punt 43 yards to the 32, but the Tigers didn’t get any points out of it. After getting a first down, a personal foul pushed Missouri back, and the Jayhawks snuffed out a fake field goal attempt to force a turnover on downs.
The Tigers again drove deep into Kansas territory near the end of the first quarter. Tony Temple keyed the drive with runs of 12 and 23 yards, while a 13-yard pass to Tommy Saunders gave Missouri a first down at the four. The Jayhawks held tight, holding the Tigers out of the end zone on the first three downs before Daniel hit Martin Rucker for a one-yard touchdown on a quick screen pass.
Reesing started the second quarter with a bang, hitting Kerry Meier over the middle for 39 yards. But Reesing went for it all on his next throw, a pass intercepted at the two-yard line by Missouri safety William Moore. The Tigers drove the ball 98 yards in 13 plays, aided by a defensive holding call on James Holt after the Jayhawks stopped Missouri on a third down play. The touchdown came when Daniel scrambled away from pressure and found receiver Danario Alexander, who ducked into the end zone from 11 yards out.
Missouri returned the favor on the next drive, giving Kansas a first down on a defensive holding call on third down. But Webb missed a 33-yard field goal, leaving Kansas still scoreless. Kansas received another golden opportunity on its next drive when Reesing connected with Dexton Fields for 31 yards, and a roughing the passer call added on another 15, moving the ball to the Missouri 16. But Stryker Sulak sacked Reesing on third down, pushing the ball back to the 28, and Webb missed a 45-yarder.
Kansas drove again on its first chance in the third quarter, but again came up short. On a third-and-nine play from the MU 16, Todd easing put a pass behind Marcus Henry that was tipped and intercepted by Castin Bridges. He returned it 49 yards to the Kansas 40. Missouri covered that distance in seven plays, with Jimmy Jackson supplying a 21-0 lead on a one-yard run.
But the Jayhawks continued to move the ball, and this time, they wouldn’t be denied. After completions of 12 and eight yards, Reesing found Dezmon Briscoe for a beautiful diving catch that covered 34 yards. That play set up a Brandon McAnderson one-yard run a few plays later, cutting the Missouri lead to 21-7.
The Tigers responded quickly with a 13-play, 69 yard drive capped off with a Derrick Washington three-yard touchdown catch on a pass from Daniel, returning the lead to 21 points. Kansas came right back down the field, scoring on a Reesing five-yard touchdown run on a fourth down bootleg, making the score 28-14. Missouri upped that lead to 31-14 when Jeff Wolfert booted a 43-yard field goal after a 44-yard drive.
It took all of one minute 23 seconds for the Jayhawks to cut the lead to 10 with a touchdown pass from Reesing to Fields. But Missouri was able to burn close to five minutes on its next drive, ending with another Wolfert 43-yard field goal.
The Jayhawks didn’t quit, driving back down the field 63 yards for another touchdown, with Reesing finding Marcus Henry in the back of the end zone for the score. Kansas had a slim chance to win at the end, but Reesing was sacked in the end zone by Lorenzo Williams for a safety with 12 seconds left.
Daniel finished 40 for 49 for 361 yards and three touchdowns. Temple led all rushers with 98 yards on 22 attempts. Alexander had eight catches for 117 yards and a touchdown, while Saunders and Maclin chipped in 82 and 69 yards respectively.
Reesing completed 28 of 49 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns. He added a touchdown on the ground, but had two interceptions. Fields, 116 yards, and Briscoe, 94 yards, were Kansas’s top receivers. Meier caught four passes for 70 yards. The Tiger defense held McAnderson to 41 yards rushing on 14 attempts.
The loss, Kansas’s first of the season means the Tigers, not the Jayhawks, will represent the North in the Big 12 title game, while Kansas will be left to see if it can squeeze into a BCS bowl game. With LSU’s loss this week, Missouri now has a chance to advance to the BCS title game with a victory over Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game.
- MU – Martin Rucker 1 pass from Chase Daniel (Jeff Wolfert kick), 0:29 1Q
- MU – Danario Alexander 11 pass from Daniel (Wolfert kick), 9:21 2Q
- MU – Jimmy Jackson 1 run (Wolfert kick), 10:36 3Q
- KU – Brandon McAnderson 1 run (Webb kick), 7:21 3Q
- MU – Derrick Washington 3 pass from Daniel (Wolfert kick), 1:19 3Q
- KU – Todd Reesing 5 run (Webb kick), 13:02 4Q
- MU – Wolfert 43 FG, 9:55 4Q
- KU – Dexton Fields 10 pass from Reesing (Webb kick), 8:28 4Q
- MU – Wolfert 43 FG, 4:52 4Q
- KU – Marcus Henry 5 pass from Reesing (Webb kick), 2:03 4Q
- MU – Team Safety, 0:12 4Q