Missouri holds off Kansas late for 21-13 win

Cole Sales/PrepsKC Intern

By Brian Spano PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: June 17, 2011 - 12:01 PM

BELTON, Mo. In the world of high school football, Missouri reigns supreme, at least until next year. The Missouri All-Stars outlasted the Kansas All-Stars at Southwick Stadium Thursday night 21-13 in the 20th Country Mart Kansas vs. Missouri All-Star Game.

And just like any big football game, defense was the key.

“You always draft defense first,” said Missouri and Kearney head coach Greg Jones. “It’s the same thing we do at Kearney. I’m SEC born and bred, and defense wins championships. We wanted to make sure we were loaded on defense.”

Case in point, the Missouri defenders held Kansas to just three first-half points, and those points came in the final second of the half when Jonathan Pyle from St. Thomas Aquinas knocked through a 23-yard field goal.

Both teams seemed a little tentative to start the game, never really getting their offenses revving. In fact, it appeared the game was going to be a showcase of two very solid punters. It wasn’t until late in the first quarter that Missouri was able to put points on the board when quarterback Shane Hartzler from Kearney went in from one-yard out. It took him three attempts after a first and goal from the six yard line.

“When you only have eight days of practice to put an offense in, you don’t get the continuity you need,” said Kansas and Louisburg head coach Gary Griffin. “Defense always wins these games, big plays, turnovers, that’s the stuff that matters.”

Well, it was a big play that pushed Missouri out to a 14-point lead midway through the second quarter when O’Hara running back Raphael Spencer bolted 71 yards up the right sideline for a touchdown. It turned out to be all Missouri would need. He finished the game with 102 yards rushing on seven carries and was the team’s MVP.

“I saw it at the last minute,” Spencer said of the run. “It was supposed to go inside, and I didn’t see anything, and I saw that cornerback come in from the side, and I thought outside, I’ll run to daylight.”

Pyle added another field goal in the third quarter from 38 yards out, then both teams traded touchdowns in the fourth. Nathan Wilson from Park Hill hit his high school mate DeAris Flint on a 15-yard strike to put Missouri up 21-6. Kansas added a final score when St. Thomas Aquinas’ Richard Davila hooked up with Shawnee Mission Northwest's Kenny Mings for 10yards.

Missouri finished the night with more than 200 yards on the ground and nearly 150 through the air, while holding Kansas to just 113 yards rushing and 78 passing.

Now Missouri, which trails the all-time series 8-11, can claim bragging rights, but this year’s game took on a bigger meaning. Proceeds collected from the gate were being donated to support the Joplin High School football team after last month’s devastating tornado that ripped through the town.

“Everyone asked how much tickets were, and when we told them it was for Joplin, people were like OK, yeah, yeah, we’ll definitely go,” said Davila. “Just hearing before the game to take a minute to remember them, it really gave you goose bumps.”

For more photos from the Country Mart Kansas vs. Missouri All-Star Game go to www.colesalesphotography.com.