Sunday, November 8, 1987

Jayhawks, K-State battle to 17-17 deadlock

Kansas' Mattox blocks field goal attempt on final play


MANHATTAN - Marvin Mattox thanked God, his Kansas teammates thanked Geronimo and Gov. Mike Hayden congratulated no one.

Nobody won the Governor's Cup on a sunny, windy Saturday afternoon at KSU Stadium, thanks to Mattox : and Geronimo.

"I'll save it 'til next year," Gov. Hayden remarked about his hunk of hardware after Kansas and Kansas State settled for a 17-17 tie.

Not until Mattox, a senior strong safety, burst through and blocked Mark Porter's 37-yard field goal attempt as time expired was Hayden able to divert his attention to the beginning of the Kansas Lottery next Thursday.

Chance, of course, had plenty to do with Saturday's non-outcome, too, although there was some strategy involved.

Kansas lined up in its Geronimo formation as Porter prepared to unload the kick that would end the Wildcats' 13-game losing streak.

"It worked really good," said defensive tackle Mark Koncz, who also played an important role in the blocked kick. "They weren't expecting us to do it."

Geronimo is what Kansas calls its inside rush play. Koncz and fellow tackle Eldridge Avery knock the center down, leaving a hole for Mattox to dive through.

"It's something you can't practice," Koncz explained. "You can't do it against your own people because there's a high risk of getting hurt."

Amen, said Mattox.

"Yeah, it's dangerous," Mattox smiled, "but I didn't care. I just wanted the ball. Half the time you do it, you land on the back of your neck."

Curiously, Mattox was a doubtful participant early in the week because of a neck injury, but he was caught up in the emotion of the moment and had no recollection of where he landed after reaching out with his right hand and striking Porter's kick with his open palm.

"I don't know how high I was, but I was pretty high," Mattox added. "Being 6-4 helps. I knew this was it. I just prayed to God to let me jump high."

Kansas coach Bob Valesente, who had watched his turnover-prone team cough the ball up four times in this one, couldn't have been happier his team had one more gasp left when it looked like curtains for sure.

"Obviously, that blocked field goal was an effort to behold," Val gushed. "We're not always happy with a tie, but that type of effort helped preserve the tie."

In effect, Kansas earned this deadlock not only by blocking that 11th hour field goal, but by engineering a fourth-quarter drive that culminated in Mike Rogers' three-yard TD burst with 5:32 showing.

Just 3 1/2 minutes earlier, Kansas State had taken a 17-10 lead on Porter's 34-yard field goal- the only one of four tries he made all afternoon.

Later, Val confirmed he considered going for two points after Rogers scored, but opted for Louis Klemp kicking a one-pointer instead.

"Yes, we had a plan to go for two," Valesente said. "If the clock had been under five minutes, we would have. But we felt there was enough time left on the clock to have them punt into the wind and get the ball again."

Kansas did regain possession - although not exactly the way Valesente had hoped - and then, shades of past games, the Jayhawks lost it again.

Here's what happened:

K-State stormed all the way to the KU 23 - field goal range _ but with 1:16 remaining Clint Normore leaped in the end zone and intercepted Gary Swim's pass intended for John Williams.

Suddenly, Kansas had a chance - unquestionably its last - to win.

Verdugo connected with Willie Vaughn for 21 yards to the KU 41. Then, after two plays gained nothing, Verdugo went into the shotgun formation, but center Chip Budde's snap was low and Verdugo couldn't handle it.

Sure enough, K-State's Tim Verdugo recovered at the KU 31. Worse, Kansas was assessed a personal foul penalty - it enraged Valesente - and K-State set up on the Kansas 16 with only 36 ticks left.

"One of our players did something that, according to the officials, was overly aggressive," Val explained. "I talked to our team about that in the locker room. It shouldn't happen. We don't need personal fouls."

Turned out, of course, that the personal foul wasn't critical, thanks to Geronimo in general and Mattox in particular.

And what was Valesente doing at the time?

Well, he did "ice" Porter by calling a timeout following a KSU timeout. Otherwise, nothing superstitious for the KU head man.

How often, one reporter asked the KU coach, does that do-or-die Geronimo defense work?

"Once," Val grinned, " a year."

By tying Saturday, Kansas has now gone 12 straight Big Eight games without a win, and has won only one of its last 16 games.

Even the statistics Saturday were practically a dead heat. Kansas had 296 yards of offense to K-State's 286, and each team had four turnovers. Too, only 14 seconds divided the time of possession.

Individually, KU's Arnold Snell carried 32 times for 124 yards while K-State's Tony Jordan also had 32 carries for 147 yards.

Inevitably, too, that famous expression following no-decisions was resurrected.

"It was nowhere like a win," remarked KU defensive end Teddy Newman, "but it's better than a loss. I've got to say, though, it's like kissing my sister."

Kansas, 1-7-1 and 0-4-1 in the Big Eight, will meet Oklahoma State next Saturday in the home finale. The Jayhawks close on the road next week at Missouri.


sevenyearhawk 13 years, 5 months ago

As a KU grad with a history degree, I LOVE it when old stories make it to the Web, keep up the good work LJW/KUSports staff!!!

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