By MATT PIKE/AP
St. Joseph Post
Tigers stun Wildcats on walk off 61 yard field goal from 'Thicker Kicker'
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Eli Drinkwitz and the Missouri coaching staff decided in the closing seconds of a back-and-forth affair with Kansas State on Saturday that if the Tigers crossed midfield and reached the 40-yard line, they would give Harrison Mevis a chance to kick the winning field goal.
Missouri made it to the Kansas State 38 and quarterback Brady Cook spiked the ball to stop the clock.
Then that same coaching staff inexplicably lost track of time on the sideline, and the delay-of-game penalty pushed the field-goal attempt back 5 yards. What would have been a 56-yarder became a 61-yard long shot from the wrong side of midfield.
It didn't matter.
After Cook threw incomplete trying to recoup the yardage, Mevis trotted onto the field anyway. And with the final few seconds ticking away, he boomed the SEC-record 61-yarder over the crossbar, sending the Tigers to a field-storming, come-from-behind 30-27 victory over the No. 15 Wildcats in a showdown of former Big 12 rivals.
“We took the penalty to make it more dramatic,” Drinkwitz said afterward. “This is all for TV anyway. This was in the script.”
Quite the fairytale ending.
“I told him right before the kick: ‘Listen, you’ve been doing this your whole life. This is your opportunity,'” Cook said. “I was just on a knee, watching. I just could not believe it. I could not believe it.”
The beleaguered Cook, who was booed by some home fans during introductions, finished with 356 yards passing and two touchdowns, despite hobbling around the second half on a sprained knee. Luther Burden III had both of the scoring grabs for the Tigers (3-0), finishing with seven catches for 114 yards in another star-making performance.
“Redemption is a beautiful thing," Drinkwitz said. “That pissed me off when we booed our starting quarterback to start the game — that pissed me off. And he went out there and played his butt off for the team.”
Will Howard, who was likewise left hobbling after the brutally physical game, had 270 yards passing and three scores. But the senior also threw a costly pick, and the Wildcats (2-1) blew too many chances on third down to put the game away.
“We had plenty of opportunities in all three phases,” K-State coach Chris Klieman said. “This is what Big 12 football is going to be like starting next week. You'd better get used to tight ballgames that are hard to win.”
The Wildcats started off like they finished a year ago, when they rolled to a rain-soaked 40-12 victory in the first meeting since Missouri left the Big 12 for the SEC. Howard hit four different receivers while swiftly marching Kansas State down field, and his third-and-goal throw tipped by the Tigers' JC Carlies landed in the hands of Phillip Brooks for the score.
Rather than begin a blowout, the touchdown launched a thriller.
Cook answered with a 47-yard touchdown heave to Burden, who spent most of the game making a mockery of the Kansas State secondary. And after Howard threw a pick in tight coverage, Mevis' added his first field goal to give Missouri the lead.
When the Wildcats responded with a swift touchdown drive, the Tigers needed two big plays and about 2 1/2 minutes to score again. This time, Cook finished the drive with a short run to send them into halftime with a 17-14 lead.
That's about when Cook hurt his leg, and for a while, the Missouri offense became stagnant. The Tigers punted twice to start the second half, and Kansas State turned them into a field goal and Howard's second TD pass to Ben Sinnott for a 24-17 lead.
It was still 24-20 when the Wildcats squandered two chances to put the game away, failing twice on short third downs. And when Missouri took over after Howard's third-and-1 pass fell incomplete, it took two plays — Cody Schrader's 26-yard run and a personal foul penalty, and Cook's 26-yard TD pass to Burden — to cover 77 yards and give Missouri a 27-24 lead.
The Wildcats had a chance to regain the lead with 5 1/2 minutes to go. But with third-and-goal at the Missouri 3, Howard lost track of time and was called for a delay of game. Kansas State settled for a tying field goal — and a costly one at that.
Mevis made sure of that with his kick — the one that bailed out his coaches — on the game's final play.
“I would have preferred it from 56,” he said, “but you know, it really doesn't matter. It's going to be the same kick.”
Kansas State beat itself at the most inopportune of times. Along with the failed third downs, the Wildcats were penalized seven times for 65 yards, their running game was bottled up in the second half and Howard had far too many passes dropped. Those are all correctable mistakes going forward, but they proved costly on Saturday.
Missouri has been under pressure to move beyond mediocre under Drinkwitz, who has yet to have a winning record in three seasons despite going to three bowl games; that's part of the reason Cook was booed by fans, who have been pining for backup Sam Horn to take the field. The result Saturday could go a long way toward changing those narratives.
Kansas State plays Big 12 newcomer UCF next Saturday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 7pm and the game will be aired on FS1.
Missouri plays Memphis next Saturday night in St. Louis. Kickoff is set for 6:30pm airing on ESPNU.
Missouri Western stumbles in second half, pulls out last second win
Missouri Western led at halftime, but a potent Central Oklahoma offense took advantage in the second half to take a lead before Missouri Western would score a game winning touchdown with 1:25 left in the game for the win. You can read our full recap HERE.
Fort Hays defense stymies Northwest in second straight loss
Northwest Missouri State struggled to get their offense going against a tough Fort Hays State defense, falling 17-6 to the Tigers in a late night battle in Hays, Kansas.
It's the first time since 2017 that the Bearcats have lost back to back football games, and the first time since 2003 that they have started the season 1-2.
The Bearcats did force two turnovers and held the the Tigers rushing attack to just seven yards on the day, however they struggled to stop the passing attack as Fort Hays passed for 353 yards and the only two touchdowns of the game. The Bearcats were also outmatched on third down going just 2-15 to the Tigers 6-15.
Both teams struggled in the first half, Fort Hays managing just a field goal in the first quarter which the Bearcats would counter in the second quarter, making the score at halftime 6-6.
The Tigers would strike first in the second half though, needing just five plays to do so as quarterback Jack Dawson would find Bryson Smith for an 18 yard touchdown pass. With the lead at 10-3 for Fort Hays, the Bearcats would answer late with their final score of the game, a 27 yard field goal from Noah Guastella. The two field goals made by Guastella were the first field goal attempts of the Juniors career.
Fort Hays would score their final touchdown of the game late in the fourth quarter to cement the game, another touchdown pass from Dawson to Smith, this time from 33 yards out.
Redshirt Freshman Henry Martin filled in at quarterback for the injured Mike Hohensee, going 21 of 35 through the air and passing for 162 yards while being sacked four times. Jay Haris once again rushed for over 100 yards, going for 104 on the day.
Northwest will try to get the back on the right track this Saturday in non conference play as they host Lincoln at Bearcat Stadium. Kickoff is at 1:30pm
Benedictine Ravens bounce back from Graceland loss in big way
The Benedictine Ravens offense was clicking on all cylinders in a return to O'Malley Field in Atchison, Kansas taking on Peru State and coming away with a 62-28 victory on Saturday.
The Ravens offense compiled over 600 yards on the day, passing for 373 yards and rushing for 228. It marks the second time this season Benedictine has compiled over 600 yards of offense, after recording 620 yards (451 passing, 169 rushing) in a win over Clarke.
Benedictine started off the game looking nearly unstoppable, scoring 38 unanswered points before Peru State would finally respond late in the second quarter. both Dalton Witherspoon and JaShawn Todd would score both on the ground and through the air and receiver Jacob Gathright would catch two touchdowns in the first half for the Ravens. Harry Balke also added a 25 yard field goal.
The lone Peru State score in the first half came on a big downfield pass as Colin Shields would find Keyon Henry-Brooks for a 66 yard touchdown pass Benedictine would hold a 45-7 lead at halftime.
Slight disaster would strike in the third quarter in the form of mother nature. Following a 22 yard field goal from Balke three minutes into the second half, lightning would strike and the game would enter a lightning delay that would last an hour and 45 minutes. The delay would halt the Ravens momentum but not by much.
Both teams combined for 35 points following the delay, starting with a nine yard touchdown pass from Shields to Jordan Kempf. That score would be answered on the very next drive which took just one play, a 65 yard touchdown run from Witherspoon.
Peru State would add two more passing touchdowns in the fourth quarter, one from Shields to Kaleb Herbel and another from backup quarterback Will Mueller to Jaden McGrew. The final Ravens score would come prior to the Mueller touchdown pass, a 26 yard interception return from Trey Williams.
Witherspoon was all over the place on Saturday, recording 112 rushing yards and 85 receiving yards, scoring two touchdowns on the ground and one through the air. Quarterback Jackson Dooley was 19 of 34 on the day passing for 347 yards and four touchdowns to no interceptions.
Benedictine is now 2-2 on the season and will stay home next week to host Culver Stockton during Family Weekend at O'Malley Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1pm.
Huskers bounce back to earn first win of Rhule era over NIU
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Heinrich Haarberg threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in his first start, and Nebraska beat Northern Illinois 35-11 Saturday night for coach Matt Rhule's first win with the Cornhuskers.
The Huskers (1-2) bounced back from losses at Minnesota and Colorado to win their home opener for the 36th time in 38 years. NIU (1-2) lost its second straight since beating Boston College on the road two weeks ago.
“I know for a lot of the fans and people who care deeply about this program, this game probably was about having some hope things are moving in the right direction,” Rhule said. “For me, this was about belief. I believe what we're doing is working and we're doing it the right way. The players showed a lot of belief, and showed a lot of belief in each other."
Haarberg might be Rhule's biggest believer. Haarberg didn't figure in former coach Scott Frost's plans and wasn't even on the travel roster late last season. He never saw the field his first two years, and his patience was tested again in the offseason when Rhule went into the transfer portal to get Jeff Sims from Georgia Tech.
Sims committed six turnovers over the first two games and left last week's loss at Colorado with a left ankle injury. Rhule didn't hesitate to turn to Haarberg when it became apparent Sims wouldn't be able to play.
“That is a testament to coach Rhule, the culture he's built," Haarberg said. “If you put in work here, you will play. They're going to see talent. They're going to train you to the highest of your ability and they're going to put you on the field if you deserve a shot. Yesterday, today leading up to it, I took a little bit to soak in how far I've come."
Haarberg looked comfortable throughout against the Huskies of the Mid-American Conference in the most playing time since 2020, when he was the quarterback at 160-student Kearney Catholic High, about two hours west of Lincoln.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound sophomore completed 14 of 24 passes for 158 yards and showed fearlessness as a runner, initiating contact rather than sliding feet-first and leading the Huskers with 21 carries for 98 yards.
The Huskers' opening possession looked like old-school Nebraska football, with Haarberg showing flair for the triple-option while marching 55 yards in six plays. Haarberg ran four times and connected with Marcus Washington for 26 yards and with Billy Kemp IV for a 10-yard touchdown.
“Being out there for the first time in a night game, all the emotions and everything I've worked up to this, being able to have that first drive end like that, I don't think I could have ended it better,” Haarberg said.
The offense went into a shell until late in the first half, when Haarberg threw 16 yards to Thomas Fidone II for a touchdown.
Haarberg led the Huskers on their best drive of the season in the third quarter, taking them 76 yards in 14 plays and chewing more than 7 minutes off the clock before Gabe Ervin Jr. banged into the end zone from the 3 to make it 21-3.
Haarberg dashed 20 yards for a touchdown on the next series against a tiring NIU defense.
NIU managed just 149 yards, half the total coming on its last possession and the fewest since the Huskers held Kansas to 87 in 2010.
“I thought our defense hung in there and played their butt off the whole game," NIU coach Thomas Hammock said. “We didn't do enough offensively to stay on the field long enough.”
For Nebraska, Tony White's 3-3-5 defense has been a revelation, and it's tasked with carrying the team while Marcus Satterfield's offense struggles to find consistency. The Huskers have one more week to polish things up before second-ranked Michigan comes calling.
Nebraska hosts Louisiana Tech this Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30pm and the game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.
Jayhawks survive hard fought battle with Nevada for 31-24 win
RENO, Nev. (AP) — Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw Jr. combined for 137 rushing yards and four touchdowns, Jalon Daniels threw for 298 yards, and Kansas pulled away from Nevada in the fourth quarter for a 31-24 victory Saturday night at Mackay Stadium.
The game was tied at 24-all when Daniels went 4-for-4 for 55 yards, leading to Neal’s third touchdown on a 3-yard run and a 31-24 lead with 6:20 left to play.
Nevada was not able to cross midfield on its final two possessions.
“We found a way,” Jayhawks coach Lance Leipold said. “We did not play our sharpest. We had too many penalties.
“But at the same time, I’m proud of our team for persevering and finding a way. In the end, we found a way to get a big stop and come away here with a win. And road wins aren’t easy.”
The Jayhawks (3-0) were a 28-point favorite at Nevada sports books.
The Wolf Pack (0-3) was looking to end the nation’s longest losing streak. The now 13-game skid under second-year coach Ken Wilson is also the longest in program history.
“It was a great effort by those men in that locker room,” Wilson said. “They came back after (a 33-6 loss to Idaho) last week and they battled their asses off all night. They never backed down.”
Quarterback Brendon Lewis led Nevada with 113 passing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
“Credit Coach Wilson and Nevada for coming ready to play and playing hard and playing downhill and physical all day long,” Leipold said.
Leipold was especially pleased with Daniels’ poise down the stretch.
“We struggled a little bit in pass protection, and he was scrambling a little bit,” he said. “But 21-for-27, that’s a pretty darn good day.”
Safety Jenny Logan had a team-high nine tackles, 2 1/2 for loss, to lead the Jayhawks.
Neither team could muster much offense in the first half, but the second half was a shootout. They combined for 20 points on 247 yards in the first half but had 35 points on 461 yards in the second.
The teams used long pass plays to trade three touchdowns in a span of 2 minutes, 7 seconds late in the third quarter. Daniels connected with tight end Mason Fairchild on a 29-yard pass to the Nevada 1.
Two plays after Hishaw’s subsequent TD, Nevada’s Dalevon Campbell hauled in a 53-yard pass from Lewis to set up a short TD run by Sean Dollars to tie it at 17.
On the next play, Daniels and Neal connected on a 59-yard pass to the Nevada 1, leading to a Neal TD and a 24-17 lead that Kansas took into the fourth quarter.
Lewis’ second TD run, from 2 yards out, with 10:37 to play knotted the score at 24 and set up Daniels’ heroics down the stretch.
The Jayhawks embarked on a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on the game’s first possession, moving the ball with ease and scoring on Neal’s 3-yard run. But the Wolf Pack defense stiffened – with the help of five Kansas penalties – and allowed just 75 yards on 23 plays the rest of the half.
Dollars scored on a 3-yard run in the final minute and the teams went into the locker room tied at 10-10 despite Nevada having just 97 total yards of offense.
The Jayhawks opened with three consecutive wins for the second straight season. Kansas stretched it to 5-0 in 2022 before losing seven of its final eight games. This marks KU’s first back-to-back 3-0 starts since 1991-92 under head coach Glen Mason.
Kansas: Will host BYU (3-0) on Saturday in what will be the Cougars’ first Big 12 Conference game. BYU had been independent the previous 12 years before joining the Big 12 this season. Kickoff is set for 2:30pm and the game will be aired on ESPN.