Kansas played with the determination of putting an end to a three-game losing streak against Missouri in the 23rd annual Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association All-Star Game.
The first 14 points scored at Peve Stadium on Thursday evening at Blue Springs High School were by the visiting Kansas All-Stars.
Missouri rose up in the second half and scored 16 points and eked out a 22-21 victory, tying the all-time series at 11-11. In 2003, the game was called because of lightning.
When the game ended, the Missouri team rushed to the sideline in unison and celebrated like it had won a state playoff game.
“We took this game seriously,” said Staley defensive back Jackson Newman, who was selected MVP for the Missouri team. “We had a lot of practices that weren’t cupcake walks. We are glad to come out with a win. We’ve been talking about beating Kansas the past two weeks. We are excited about this.”
In this year’s game, Missouri entered the fourth quarter trailing 21-14. A 4-yard run by Josh Caldwell (Lee’s Summit North) with 9:05 left in the game helped Missouri close to 21-20. Missouri went for two because its placekicker was hurt.
Less than a minute later, Missouri scored again when Kansas botched a lateral play and the ball went out of the end zone for a safety.
Missouri secured the win by playing tough defense the final 8 minutes. Kansas scored just seven points in the second half after successfully moving the ball in the second quarter.
“It was huge to come back in this game,” said Liberty North wide receiver Paul Silvio. “We were down 14-0 at one point. To bring it all the way back and win 22-21 is amazing, a great feeling.”
Both teams made big plays in the second half. The biggest one for Kansas was a 67-yard touchdown play from St. Thomas Aquinas quarterback Danten Cosentino to SM South tight end Nick Oliver that broke a 14-14 tie and gave Kansas a 21-14 lead midway through the third quarter. Cosentino was Kansas MVP.
“My dream was to catch a touchdown pass in an all-star game, and I made it happen,” Oliver said. “The ball was a little overthrown and I went up and got it and took it to the crib.
“Our defense stuck it to them in the first half and our offense was flowing. They came back and it turned into a great game and we were just playing football.”
Two of the best plays Kansas made in the first half came on fourth down and were the big reason for a 14-6 halftime lead.
Throughout most of the first quarter neither team moved the ball well. Kansas found some offensive rhythm late in the opening quarter. But it appeared the drive was going to stall at the Missouri 38.
On fourth and 4, Cosentino threw the ball near the end zone. A Missouri defender was in position for an interception, but the ball sailed through his hands and into the hands of Ryan McNellis (Aquinas) for a 35-yard reception.
On the first play in the second quarter, Jason Randall (Leavenworth) scored on a 3-yard run.
Midway through the second quarter, fourth-down magic struck again for Kansas. On fourth and 6, Cosentino tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Chad Berg (Baldwin).
Kansas completely dominated the second quarter, but allowed Missouri back in the game on a botched punt attempt. The miscue gave Missouri the ball at the Kansas’ 41.
Late in the drive, Missouri copied Kansas style of fourth-down playing making.
Running back Ezra Vaoifi (Fort Osage) scored on a 14-yard on a fourth-and-4 play with seconds left until half. Missouri missed the extra point.
Kansas, though, stayed in the giving mood in the final minute, fumbling the ball that was recovered by Dennis McKinney at the Kansas’ 11 with 24 seconds left.
Strong defense Kansas stopped Missouri on four plays, preserving an eight-point lead.