Originally published November 29, 2009 at 12:00a.m., updated November 29, 2009 at 09:51a.m.
6045 total votes.
Kansas City, Mo. Todd Reesing went out firing Saturday, which shouldn’t have come as too big a surprise to anyone who heard his midgame exchange with Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino on the sidelines.
“Let’s go, Shooter,” Mangino had implored his senior quarterback. “Shoot all the bullets today.”
“All I got left,” the quarterback vowed.
And then he went out and made good on his promise. It just didn’t quite work out the way he’d planned.
The Jayhawks lost for the seventh straight time Saturday, falling, 41-39, to rival Missouri to conclude a season that had begun with hopes of a Big 12 North title and signal the end of what might be considered one of the most memorable careers in Kansas history.
For the past three years, Reesing has been the face of the program’s rise to respectability — a cocky, hyper Texan with a penchant for pulling rabbits out of his hat and giving KU fans reason to turn their attention from the university’s vaunted men’s basketball program and take notice of what was happening on fall afternoons at Memorial Stadium.
In a sense, Reesing’s final collegiate game was an embodiment of his entire career: an all-out, foot-on-the-gas extravaganza.
He did a little bit of everything Saturday — threw for a school-record 498 yards and four touchdowns, added another score on the ground, threw his pint-sized body around with reckless abandon.
It just didn’t quite have the ending he was looking for.
“Looking back, I have no regrets on anything,” he said. “I played as hard as I could every time I was out on the field. I gave it my all in football, I gave it close to my all in school, and I've built a lot of great friendships.”
If nothing else, however, he and the rest of the team’s seniors gave fans something to remember them by.
Despite the tumultuous nature of the past month and a half — a stretch that had included six straight losses, an inexplicable slump by Reesing and an investigation into coach Mark Mangino’s treatment of players — the Jayhawks played like they had back in the first month of the season, when the team jumped to a 5-0 start and anything, including a Big 12 North title, seemed possible.
Reesing’s 506 total yards Saturday were the second most in school history.
Junior receiver Dezmon Briscoe made the most of what could be his final game as a Jayhawk, too, grabbing 14 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns.
Safety Darrell Stuckey finished with 15 tackles.
Receiver Kerry Meier caught 10 passes, two of which were touchdowns.
The list goes on.
And although the defense turned in a less-than-stellar performance, giving up 553 yards of total offense to Missouri, Kansas found itself with a three-point lead — and the ball — with less than three minutes remaining.
Two straight passing plays went for naught, however, and on a third-and-10 attempt from the Kansas three-yard line, Reesing was wrapped up in the end zone for a safety, pulling Missouri within a point, 39-38, with 2:45 to go.
Missouri quickly marched down the field, highlighted by a 27-yard run by running back Derrick Washington on third-and-two that moved the Tigers to the KU five-yard line, and unlike last season, when KU defensive back Phillip Strozier got a hand on a potential game-tying, 54-yard kick to secure a Kansas victory, Missouri’s Grant Ressel had no problem connecting on a 27-yard field-goal attempt as the clock expired.
Most likely, fans of the program will spend the next few days trying to figure out what to make of this senior class. On the one hand, the group won an Orange Bowl and an Insight Bowl, won 20 games in two seasons and earned a share of a Big 12 North title.
On the other, it couldn’t put the pieces together at the end, failing to qualify for a bowl game during a season in which expectations were at an all-time high.
Still, Mangino hopes the group is considered for its body of work, not just the outcome of a single season.
“I told our seniors that they’ve already left a legacy here with some of the things they’ve done,” Mangino said. “More people will remember all of the good things they’ve done than the negatives, especially our fan base. They should be proud that they fought and gave their very best. You can’t ask for anything from a player but their best effort, and they gave their best effort every single week.”