Kansas gives Missouri some Justice
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
It was all Missouri early, but Kansas rallied from a 15-0 deficit to earn tough 26-23 win in the annual Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association Mo-Kan All Star Game Thursday night at Shawnee Mission North High School.
Missouri got scoring runs from Winnetonka’s Darrell Jobe and Fort Osage’s Edward Pearl to grab the early lead. Kansas answered was able to keep its mistakes to a minimum and put up three big plays to defeat Missouri and avenge last year’s 10-7 loss at Blue Springs South.
Two of the game’s biggest plays were turned in by Gardner Edgerton’s Justice Berry. The wide receiver grabbed two long scoring passes and each time left his Missouri defender in his dust. Even though he caught touchdowns on the same pattern, the throws cam from different quarterbacks but that didn’t phase Berry at all.
“In the All-Star games it’s pretty much all about big plays,” Berry said. “Because everybody is an all-star so the big plays definitely helped.”
Jobe opened the scoring with a three yard touchdown run with under two minutes left in the first quarter. Missouri added another score when Edward Pearl scrambled out of the pocket and scampered 72 yards to give Missouri a 15-0 lead with 10 minutes left in the second quarter.
Kansas answered back on the next drive when Lawrence Free State’s Camren Torneden beat several Missouri defenders on his way to a 28-yard TD run with seven minutes left in the half.
Kansas got a quick stop and turned good field position into a quick score when Blue Valley’s Anthony Abenoja found Gardner Edgerton’s Justice Berry for a 41-yard touchdown score with six minutes left in the first half. Kansas then grabbed the lead for good after Shawnee Mission West’s Adam Leblanc returned a fumble more than 50 yards inside the Missouri 5-yard line. Abenoja then dove over from the 1-yard line to make the score 21-15.
“Justin Berry is a great receiver,” Abenoja said. “Both times on those touchdown passes for me and Camren the line did a great job to give us time to relax and throw the ball where we wanted.”
The game stayed 21-15 to the half in what was already the highest scoring Mo-Kan game in five years. The Kansas squad suffered a key first half injury when Simone Award winner James Franklin from Olathe North dislocated his left elbow and was unable to return to the game.
Missouri opened the second half with a long drive keyed by big runs from Jobe and Raytown South quarterback Dennis Tanner. The drive came to an end when Louisburg’s Clayton Houchen picked off Tanner’s fade pass to the corner of the end zone.
Kansas converted that turnover into seven points after Torneden found Berry streaking down the left sideline for a 47-yard catch and run. Berry’s second big TD of the game gave Kansas a 26-15 lead.
After a Philip Kind blocked a punt to set up Missouri with good field position, Tanner found Hickman Mills’ Jerrin Walton streaking over the middle for a 37-yard scoring strike with 6:02 left in the game. Tanner then found Smithville’s Cody Woods for the two-point conversion to cut it to 26-23.
“We were trying to block it and hoping to get a touchdown,” Kind said. “We got what we wanted but it didn’t come out in the end.”
Kansas then got the ball back and converted a key fourth down at midfield when Rashon Thames of Turner dove over to keep position of the ball with Kansas. The Kansas team was forced to punt but Missouri was unable to field it and the clock ran out.
“Coach (Pete) Flood and our offensive guys did a great job just getting everybody focused,” Kansas and Lawrence Free State coach Bob Lisher said. “I thought our guys responded to our coaches very well. We got that first down. We managed to eat up enough clock and they weren’t able to get the ball back.”
Dion Clisso is the Managing Editor of PrepsKC. To reach Dion send e-mail to email@example.com.
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