LAWRENCE, Kan. – Lacking a playmaking spark throughout the first half, the Blue squad got a big one in the second by way of sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart and his pair of rushing touchdowns, lifting the Blue past the White, 20-10, during Kansas football’s annual Spring Game inside Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Splitting time with the other depth chart leader, senior Jake Heaps, Cozart set the offensive tone with a game-high 58 yards in the air on 6-of-10 passing and charged for 70 yards on the ground, including two scores. His offensive output was boosted by senior running back Brandon Bourbon, who led the field with 96 yards on the ground.
The only game action of the spring season – albeit unofficial – was setup with its own unique set of rules. The Blue team, made up of the Jayhawks’ first and second string players, began each drive on its own 25-yard line or wherever the punt or punt-return play ended.
On the White squad’s side, comprised of the team’s third and fourth string, each drive began in the same manner on punts and punt returns, but after a score, or the start of half, they were spotted the ball at the 50-yard line. Additionally, no live rushes were allowed in kicking situations, with the exception of the final play of the game, as they were no kickoffs or kickoff returns.
After being held to scoreless first half, the Blue team outdid the White squad with 327 yards compared to 220, off-setting the fact that White had the ball for nearly 10 minutes longer on the afternoon. Trailing 10-6 heading into the fourth quarter, Blue churned out a pair of unanswered touchdowns to flip the game around.
Heaps and junior running back Darrian Miller accounted for the first one, leading the march down the field that gave Blue its first lead of the game with 14 minutes to play. Cozart was responsible for the second when he broke free for a 60-yard sprint before punching it in two plays later for the final score of the game.
Thanks to his game-changing performance, Cozart earned Offensive Player of the Game while senior defensive lineman Keon Stowers collected Defensive Player of the Game honors. Stowers accounted for eight total tackles, four on his own, while teammate Jake Love chalked up 10 total tackles – six of the solo variety. Senior linebacker Ben Heeney led the Blue team with two tackles for loss.
On the White side, a beautifully executed flea-flicker play off the hands of Tre’ Parmalee kicked off the day’s scoring. The junior wide receiver already had a catch to his credit when junior quarterback Michael Cummings dished off the snap and Parmalee reacted with a textbook pass to senior wide receiver Andrew Turzilli. In full stride, Turzilli caught it over his shoulder for a 26-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead for the White team that would hold until halftime.
Turzilli ended his day as the team’s leader in receiving yards with 57, also snagging a nifty catch on the sideline, while senior running back Taylor Cox ran for a team-best 63 yards. White did most of its shining on the defensive end, rattling off seven tackles for losses. Freshman linebacker Colton Goeas and junior defensive lineman T.J. Semke set the tone as each racked up a sack and a pair of tackles for losses.
The Cummings-to-Parmalee-to-Turzilli flea flicker amounted to White’s only touchdown of the game, but the team found plenty of ways to keep it interesting. When Cozart ran the ball into the end zone for Blue’s first touchdown of the game, a missed extra point prevented the squad from tying the game, but the White team also did its part to keep the score from evening out.
This time, sophomore quarterback T.J. Millweard took over behind center, while senior running back Taylor Cox broke out for a 26-yard run to set up a 23-yard field goal for sophomore kicker Matthew Wyman to take the 10-6 lead.
The lead would not hold as the effort from the White squad was finally overtaken by Blue’s fourth-quarter surge that resulted in the 20-10 win.