Originally published November 30, 2008 at 12:00a.m., updated November 30, 2008 at 11:40a.m.

Wounded warriors key KU’s Border War victory

Kansas linebacker Joe Mortensen (8) and defensive tackle Richard Johnson Jr. hoist the traveling war drum trophy following the Jayhawks 40-37 victory over rival Missouri, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008 at Arrowhead Stadium.

Kansas linebacker Joe Mortensen (8) and defensive tackle Richard Johnson Jr. hoist the traveling war drum trophy following the Jayhawks 40-37 victory over rival Missouri, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008 at Arrowhead Stadium.


Web extras: Border Showdown

Additional highlights from the Jayhawks' Border Showdown victory.

Border Showdown Recap

6Sports' Kevin Romary takes a look at how KU pulled out a comeback victory against Mizzou on Saturday.

Audio clips

2008 KU-MU football

— Taking a glance at his football team early last week, there was not a lot for Kansas University coach Mark Mangino to smile about.

His quarterback — the one who’d broken all those records and raised all those expectations — couldn’t lift his throwing arm. His most reliable receiver, who had limped his way through the second half of the season in obvious pain, was a question mark. And the team’s tough-as-nails running back, the small-town boy, couldn’t even take the field, so pained was he from an injury sustained two weeks before.

“You know I don’t discuss injuries,” Mangino said following Saturday’s 40-37 victory over Missouri. “I will tell you this: If I had to discuss injuries leading up to this game, a roll of toilet paper wouldn’t be long enough for all of the names and injuries that would be on it.”

Of course, if there’s anything that can help a Kansas football player tune out injury, it’s a matchup against hated rival Missouri. A team that handed the Jayhawks their only loss of the 2007 season. A team ranked No. 12 in the nation. A team with not one, but two preseason Heisman hopefuls stationed on its roster.

And so, in a game that immediately will take its place among the best in Kansas’ recent history, the Jayhawks managed to grind out a victory that wasn’t decided until a potential game-tying field goal glanced off the cuticles of a Kansas defender as time expired.

“Right away, people asked me if this was the greatest win we’ve ever had,” said Mangino, the reigning national coach of the year. “We’ve had some great wins here, so I can’t say that. Let me tell you what I can tell you: It is the guttiest win that we’ve ever had since I’ve been the coach at Kansas.”

In doing what they had struggled to do throughout the season, the Jayhawks were able to hang with a Missouri team many figured would be too much. They won the time-of-possession battle by 12 minutes, including an unthinkable 12:49-to-2:11 margin in the first quarter.

They converted on 12 of 19 third-down conversion opportunities. They made plays when they had to — and some when they didn’t.

There was punter Alonso Rojas, whose rugby-style punts helped nullify the talents of Missouri’s standout return man, Jeremy Maclin.

There was Jake Laptad, who brought down Tigers quarterback Chase Daniel in the end zone for his second safety of the season.

And there was receiver Dezmon Briscoe, taking over kick-return duties and gobbling up a game-high 310 all-purpose yards.

Despite questions of how the their shaky defense would hold up against one of the nation’s most potent offensive attacks, the Jayhawks forced three turnovers — all of which came courtesty of junior safety Darrell Stuckey — and took Daniel out of rhythm early and often. The former Heisman finalist completed just 25 of 41 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns, though he also tossed two costly interceptions.

His counterpart, meanwhile, enjoyed a redemption of sorts. Kansas signal-caller Todd Reesing shrugged off his soreness to beat the only team he’d failed to beat as a sophomore last season, throwing for 375 yards and four touchdowns to keep things close.

After building a 26-10 lead early in the second half, Reesing and Co. found themselves in a dogfight late, as Missouri came charging back, scoring two touchdowns in less than a minute to pull within 26-23 by the start of the fourth quarter.

After Derrick Washington rushed for a six-yard touchdown to give Missouri a 37-34 lead with 1:50 remaining, a banged-up Reesing — he had to receive stitches on his hand following the game — took the field with one last opportunity.

And the junior from Austin, Texas, made the most of that opportunity.

He drove the Jayhawks — trailing 37-33 — to the Missouri 26-yard line, where he faced a fourth-and-seven call with precious few seconds remaining.

Reesing took the snap, somehow escaped a collapsing pocket and unleashed a 26-yard floater that landed softly in the hands of a wide-open Kerry Meier for a touchdown.

The score gave Kansas a 40-37 advantage with 27 seconds remaining.

However, because the opponent was the Tigers — they of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them scoring drives — the game was not decided until Missouri kicker Jeff Wolfert, best in the Big 12 going into the game, unleashed a potential game-tying 53-yard field goal attempt as time expired.

The ball, partially blocked by KU safety Phillip Strozier, sputtered to the ground well short of the end zone, and that, as they say, was that.

“Getting a little revenge from last year,” Reesing said of the best part of Saturday’s victory. “Obviously, they gave us our only loss last year, and then to come back when we probably weren't favored very much this game and to get a win against them in this big rivalry is a huge thing.”

In the grand scheme of things, Saturday’s game does not change much. Kansas will go to a bowl, as it would have had it lost. The Jayhawks still fell short of their goal of the Big 12 championship game, which will be played next week between Missouri and a yet-to-be-determined opponent.

But knocking off the only team they’d failed to beat a season ago — coupled with the prospect of going into the next four weeks on a winning note and ensuring a winning season for the second straight year — seemed enough to suffice.

“There aren’t words that I can really use with my limited vocabulary to describe the feeling I have for all of our players, especially the kids that really had to fight through the last month of the season,” said Mangino, whose team will now await its postseason fate. “... Because they gave everything they have to the program.

“(And) they were rewarded today.”


mojayhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

Good article Dugie. Does anyone know if there is a photo available of one of our players carrying the mizzou drum after the game? I have a few mizzou friends who would love to have it e mailed to them. The same ones who emailed the photo of Reesing with turf in his face mask last year on a poster titled "Failure". What a game!

Andy Godwin 9 years, 6 months ago

This is the way football was meant to be played. On real grass, in challenging conditions, against a hated foe, with great fan support and players giving their all. What a gutty performance by a banged up KU football team. A true classic KU-MU football game. Congratulations on one exciting game.

jahawkdave 9 years, 6 months ago

What a gutsy performance by this team to keep fighting the way they did it was a beautiful thing to watch. These players made me proud to be a Jayhawk and I'm so glad to have them representing the University of Kansas! That hit Reesing took as he was sliding to the turf would have put most QBs out of the game, but he bounced back up like he wasn't touched. These guys were Warriors and there was no denying them! Reesing Sharp Meier Stuckey Dez Seniors linemen......Thank you for a truly classic football game, Rock Chalk!

jayhawkintexas 9 years, 6 months ago

Congratulations on a great win and a really exciting game. The KU players not only did it with guts and determination, they also did it with class. This is one of those games I will never forget. Enjoy the bowl game guys, you deserve it and you make us all proud.

bad_dog 9 years, 6 months ago

"The Jayhawks still fell short of their goal of the Big 12 North title, which will be played next week between Missouri and a yet-to-be-determined opponent."KU aspired to win the North Division of the Big 12 and thus, be eligible to play in the Big 12 Championship game. The Big 12 Championship is the game that will be played next week-not the Big 12 North title game...

illinijhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

"The Jayhawks still fell short of their goal of the Big 12 North title, which will be played next week between Missouri and a yet-to-be-determined opponent."Yeah, um, no.

Hawkish4bigM 9 years, 6 months ago

Great win! Great job all for the whole team. Stuckey around next year? Redeems a lot that did not end so well. Gutsy not only because of injuries, because of recent troubles, and because we were not supposed to win. Solidifies and legitimizes bowl talk. Great team effort. Be interesting to see who we play in bowl. What's with Misery's home uniforms? Putrid yellow it looked like. Hope they keep them.

tis4tim 9 years, 6 months ago

mojayhawk, There was a pic leading off the in-game updates from yesterday. I don't know if this helps, but you can try here:

Marcia Parsons 9 years, 6 months ago

That wasn't Missouri's drum. It's the one that's passed back and forth according to who wins. It has a Jayhawk on the other side, I believe. But that doesn't mean it wouldn't still make a good picture to send to someone from MU.

funkitect 9 years, 6 months ago

anyone else notice how this game changed from the 'border showdown' earlier in the week to the 'border war' today?a showdown suggests an one-time event. a war is ongoing and indefinite from 1891 on...yes, the Border War it is... let's keep it that way!

Sparko 9 years, 6 months ago

I actually count 1855 as the first year. Missouri hasn't changed all that much when it travels.

Kent Kossoy 9 years, 6 months ago

Read the KC Star and the St. Louis Post. All Mizzou dos is blame the refs and whine about winning the B12 North. Poor losers. This certainly makes up for the 2 losses that should have been wins. Lets do better next year!! Rock Chalk!!TXJHAWK

Dan Harris 9 years, 6 months ago

Just finished watching the game again(much less stressful thank God!) Have to give some HUGE props to our offensive line, not much running room today but they did a great job of protecting Reesing. I think everyone needs to give Coach Bowen some due respect also as he has been ripped on here all year long but today came up with a great gameplan. Great day to be a Jayhawk, now I'm going to go collect my $200 from my Mizzu neighbor and gloat awhile! RCJH!

Martini_Boy 9 years, 6 months ago

Hank Stram said it best when he described the Vikings defensive backfield as looking like "A Chinese Fire Drill" in a championship game. Mizzery's cheap hittin, trash mouth talkin, cockier than good d-backs will have to wear that for the rest of their lives.They've always been long in the mouth and short on the field. SWEEEEEEEEET!!!!

Martini_Boy 9 years, 6 months ago

P.S. Good Luck in the Big XII championship game..... Your gonna need it!!!!!!!

kstrebor 9 years, 6 months ago

God bless whoever invented the DVR. My family and I will watch this game over and over. Great win men. This season was a total success. Rock Chalk!

Jeff Hargate 9 years, 6 months ago

I know that it was not San Antonio, but the feeling was a close 2nd. Way to go Hawks!! I have never been as proud of a team as I am of you!

William James 9 years, 6 months ago

Id like to take a second to thank all the KU fans that were given a million reasons since last year not to come to this game. The experience that I share with you guys and the football team is one that I wont soon forget. This was a gutsy performance by the team and our fan base that didn't pick any of the convenient excuses to stay home.THANK YOU!!!!!

Ben Kliewer 9 years, 6 months ago

jhwkfan162515,The Insight Bowl folks had already come to four KU games this year. There's an article on this website about it. Even had we lost (God forbid) it sounds like we still would have gone to the Insight Bowl, what with the quality of play displayed in the Big 12 this year and everyone beating everyone else up. Most 6 win Big 12 teams will get bowl games this year. However, now we will hopefully get something better than Insight.

Matt Bowers 9 years, 6 months ago

What is it about beating MU, that makes me feel so alive? Screw Mizzou.Rock Chalk

actorman 9 years, 6 months ago

I echo jeffthejayhawk. In one way, this is just like San Antonio, in the sense that every time I think about it, it makes me smile. A truly incredible game, and if it had been on ESPN it would have certainly qualified as an instant classic.

rockchalkin54 9 years, 6 months ago

I don't know kustrong, but I feel the exact same way. I feel like everything is right in the world.By the way, I can't wait to see the beating that OU is gonna lay on Missouri next weekend!

Blake Post 9 years, 6 months ago

i don't understand all of the spedulation. We are sending two BCS teams and Texas will be one of them. We have connections with 8 or 9 bowls if we get two BCS. We have 7 qualifiers and insight bowl picks 7th. 6th is Nebraska and they beat us, the slimey dogs, so no. 6 will take them. We are in the insight bowl. Enjoy the sun. Say hi to Shaq. Regarding Miz zoo, Hawks Rule, Tigers drool. They are just tiger lily hillbillies.We beat brad smith 3 in a row and 1/2 vs. Chase Danieal, who I will be happy to see move to pro. That sounds like 4 of 6 to me.

jco8394 9 years, 6 months ago

Actually 1 out of 3 against Daniel....

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