A few little but crucial mistakes cost the Mid Missouri Outlaws in their home-0pening 48-42 loss to the Kansas Koyotes Saturday night at the Mathewson Exhibition Center.
The Outlaws, 2-1 in the American Professional Football League so far this season, failed to convert on fourth down three times inside the Koyotes’ 10-yard line, turned the ball over twice inside the Koyotes 10 and their linebackers and secondary gave up six touchdown passes.
The way things started, it appeared the Outlaws might be on their way to an easy win. After shutting the Koyotes down on downs at the Outlaw 24, veteran Mid Missouri quarterback Kyle Middleton connected with Gary Taylor on a fly pattern up the right sideline for a 26-yard TD pass. The extra point was good and the Outlaws were on top 7-0 with almost 13 minutes left in the first quarter.
The Kansas quarterback, who picked the Outlaws’ secondary apart all night, connected on a 25-yard pass to the Outlaw five-yard line. Two plays later, the Koyotes scored on a two-yard run and the extra point sailed through to tie the game at 7-7 after one quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Middleton drove his team to the Koyotes two-yard line but he couldn’t get the grip on a bad snap from center and the Koyotes recovered the loose pigskin at their 10 yard line.
The Koyotes moved 40 yards downfield, scoring on a 10-yard dump pass over the middle and kicked the extra point to take a 14-7 lead early in the second.
The Koyotes made the mistake of kicking the ball deep to Marcus James. James, who holds the University of Missouri record for career punt and kickoff return yardage, gathered the kickoff in at the goal line and set sail. He was dragged down at the Koyotes 10-yard line. On the next pay, Middleton found James in the right corner of the endzone on a 10-yard scoring strike. The extra point evened the game at 14-14.
Unable to defensively stop the visitors from the Sunflower State, the Outlaws gave up a 20-yard TD pass late in the second quarter. The extra point failed as the ball was partially deflected at the line.
The Outlaws came right back, as Middleton connected on three straughtht passes to drive his team to the Koyotes five-yard line but Middleton’s pass was swatted away at the goal line on the final play of the first half as the Koyotes took a 20-14 lead into the half Tim break.
The capacity crowd came back to life when Middleton connected with Joshua Reid on a 23-yard TD pass, Middleton’s second quick strike of the game to start the third quarter. The extra point put the Outlaws back on top 21-20 with 12:32 left in the third quarter.
Another golden opportune slipped away from the Outlaws, when Middleton was flushed out of the pocket under a heavy rush at the Koyotes five and fumbled. The visitors recovered at the 12-yard line and scored on a 38-yard pass on the next play. The Koyotes ran in a two-point conversion to recapture the lead at 28-21.
The Outlaws were held on downs at the Koyotes six yard line. Kansas capitalized on a 30-yard pass play early in the fourth to go up 35-21.
Game over right? Wrong.
Middleton brought his team right back, scoring twice in a minute and a half to tie the game at 35-35.
Middleton quickie drove the team to the Koyotes 23 then found Taylor in the right corner of the endzone with 7:30 left. The extra point sailed through and the Outlaws were back in the game at 35-28.
Calling on a little trickery, the Outlaws tried a squib kick on the kickoff.
The ball bounced high off the turf and off the fingers of one of the upfront returners, The Outlaws recovered at the Koyotes 5-yard line. On the next play, James scampered around right end to the endzone for his secd TD of the game to tie it 35-35.
With 6:39 left,, it was a brand new game.
Someone forgot to tell the Koyotes. They held the Outlaws on owns twice down the stretch and scored on a 23-yard run and a 30-yard pass to go up by two scores at 48-35 with 3:23 to go as the full house headed to the exits.
The Outlaws still had some fight left. They drove, thanes in big part to a pass interference call, to the Koyotes six-yard line. Despite a bad snap, Middleton scooped up the loose ball and slung it into thru hands of Aaron Lubbe in the right corner of the endzone to close out the scoring with 51 seconds left.
The Koyotes ran out the clock and headed back to Kansas. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.