Bryan DeLong admitted to feeling a little uneasy after a futile first half. The head football coach at Center was in charge of the Missouri all-stars, and he was starting to feel the pressure of the Show-Me State’s six-game winning streak in the Papa John’s Kansas vs. Missouri All-Star Game.
After a scoreless first half that featured two empty trips into the red zone, DeLong feared becoming the coach that couldn’t keep the streak alive.
“I told the kids at halftime that legends are made in games like these,” DeLong said. “When you’re up by 40, no one remembers those plays. We had kids step up and make those plays.”
DeLong didn’t have to wait long to see that happen and have his fears allayed. Two quick touchdowns – one from the offense and one from the defense – gave Missouri all the points it would need for a 17-7 victory and a seventh-straight win in the 26th edition of the series June 15 at Blue Springs South.
“Lot of relief off my shoulders, I tell you what,” DeLong said.
After a scoreless first half that saw both teams move the ball but fail to get into the end zone, Missouri needed only two plays – a 10-yard run and a 2-yard run by Salvatore Garozzo from Lee’s Summit – before quarterback Anthony Pritzel of Kearney connected with wide receiver Cristian Cox from Center for a 68-yard touchdown pass.
After failing to get points on two deep drives in the first half, Pritzel said he just wanted to get Missouri’s offense going.
“I just had one-on-one with the wide receivers, so I just took a chance,” said Pritzel, who was named the Missouri team’s Most Valuable Player. “I know he’s got size on him, so it was a worth a shot.”
Kansas ran off just two plays on its next possession before Missouri made it a two-touchdown lead. Kansas quarterback Matt Dercher of Blue Valley made a throw while scrambling in the backfield which was tipped by Missouri lineman Deonaven McKinzy of University Academy. The ball landed in the hands of linebacker John Taylor of Center, who rumbled 46 yards for the score.
Parker Sampson of Park Hill tacked on a 24-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter for a 17-0 lead.
“We were a little nervous, but we just kept doing our thing and it worked out,” Pritzel said.
Missouri had reason to be nervous after Kansas moved the ball effectively most of the first half. Kansas opened the game with an 11-play, 78-yard drive that stalled on the Missouri 18-yard line. It even had two touchdowns wiped out on a drive that took up most of the second quarter.
After an intentional grounding call put Kansas on its 2-yard line, Dercher made a toss down the sideline to Nigel Houston of Shawnee Mission East, who caught the ball at the 20 and broke tackles on his way to the end zone. A holding call nullified the score. Kansas continued down to the Missouri 19, where Will Evans of Blue Valley took a toss and ran into the end zone. A holding call wiped out that TD, too.
Missouri, meanwhile, saw a 10-play, 41-yard march end on downs on the Kansas 14 and missed on a 44-yard field goal at the start of the second quarter.
Kansas did get on the board in the fourth quarter when quarterback Will Schneider of Shawnee Mission North capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive with a nine-yard TD pass to Israel Watson of Shawnee Mission West, but it was too late to snap the Sunflower State’s skid in the contest presented by the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association. Missouri now holds a 14-11 lead in the series, including one postponement.
DeLong, and the Missouri stars, were glad they could keep the streak going.
“We knew it’d be tight,” DeLong said. “We told the kids all week it’s going to be a one- or two-score game and it’s going to go down to the wire. I’m just happy our kids didn’t make the mistakes and got it done.”
Wide receiver Zach Shanholzter from Lee’s Summit West was also selected to the Missouri team but couldn’t play due to a hip injury he suffered last week during practice.