R.J. Layton and Tyler Greever highlight a tough SEC opener for the Missouri football team.
Saturday, September 8 -
There was cool autumn weather on Saturday as the Mizzou faithful showed up in droves for their school’s inaugural SEC game against No. 7 Georgia. Over 71,000 filled the stands, but the electric atmosphere wasn’t enough for the Tigers to pull of an upset as the Bulldogs escaped Columbia with a 41-20 victory.
The opening drive got off to an shaky start with three high snaps — the third flying way over quarterback James Franklin’s head — to put Mizzou at third and very long. On the following drive, however, defensive end Brad Madison answered with a third down sack of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.
The Missouri offense struggled to get rolling throughout the first quarter, but was saved by big defensive stands and well placed punts that saved field position. Late in the first the Tigers began using a hurry-up offense that proved effective against a Bulldogs defense lacking a few starters. The first quarter was marked with wild momentum swings as both defenses came up with big stops, but it ended scoreless.
In the second quarter, the Mizzou offense continued to find its legs as it brought a promising drive down to the Georgia nine-yard line, but a fumble by halfback Kendial Lawrence silenced the scoring opportunity.
However, with momentum continuing to swing on a pendulum, on the first play of the ensuing drive Mizzou’s Donovan Bonner intercepted Murray over the middle. After returning the ball to the Georgia 25, Missouri was only able to muster up five more yards before settling for a 36-yard field goal by kicker Andrew Baggett to open the scoring.
Georgia quickly answered with a 52-yard field goal to tie the game. On the following drive, the Bulldogs appeared to have a stop, but Malcolm Mithcell fumbled the punt recovery to continue the Missouri drive.
Yet, the Tigers failed to capitalize on the miscue as Baggett missed a 43-yard field goal attempt.
On Mizzou’s next drive, Franklin hit wide receiver Marcus Lucas for a 41-yard touchdown pass to seize a 10-3 lead.
Georgia responded with a five-play drive lasting just over a minute ending with a 2-yard touchdown strike from Murray. Bulldog kicker Marshall Morgan missed the extra point, though, to maintain Missouri’s lead at 10-9 heading into the locker room.
The second half opened with Missouri regaining momentum as the defense forced a three and out ending with another Madison sack. Three plays later, Franklin threw a perfectly placed pass to L’Damian Washington over the middle for a 69-yard touchdown pass to give Missouri a 17-9 lead.
Georgia replied with an easy score and two-point conversion to tie the game at 17 a piece. Missouri would once again turn to the hurry up offense. The drive resulted in a 25-yard field goal that gave the Tigers a 20-17 lead with 2:39 remaining in the third.
Baggett’s second field goal of the game proved to be the final time the Tigers would put points on the board. Behind relentless pressure defense and a brutal fourth quarter effort from their offensive line, the Bulldogs scored 24 unanswered points to bury Mizzou.
After emotionally draining SEC debut, the Missouri Tigers will look to rebound quickly when they face the Arizona State Sun Devils at 6 p.m. Saturday at Faurot Field.