Manziel, No. 9 A&M Obliterate Tigers’ Postseason Hopes

Saturday, Nov. 24-

In a tale of two entirely different inaugural SEC seasons, Heisman hopeful Johnny Manziel and the No. 9 Texas A &M Aggies dominated the Missouri Tigers, 59-29. Mizzou’s disappointing season came to an end without a bowl game for the first time since 2004.

Texas A&M opened the game with the ball after Mizzou deferred the toss. Starting from his own 17, Manziel led the Aggies on an impressive opening drive, dissecting the Mizzou defense. Just over two minutes later, Christine Michael ran in from the one-yard line untouched to give A&M the early lead.

Corbin Berkstresser started the game for Mizzou as James Franklin was ruled out with a concussion. The only offense Berkstresser could muster on the opening drive was a third-and-long pass to Gahn McGaffie, who has been a pleasant surprise in his senior season, but the drive stalled and Missouri was forced to punt.

Another A&M touchdown, and a Mizzou three-and-out later brought a massive scare for the Aggie fans. Manziel grabbed his left knee following a scramble, and silence engulfed Kyle Field. In one of his classiest moments in a Mizzou uniform, Sheldon Richardson, the junior defensive star likely headed for the draft, was seen kneeling for his injured adversary.

Once Manziel was taken off the field though, Michael sprinted in from 38 yards out to jolt some life back into the crowd. Manziel continued his miraculous season by returning on A&M’s subsequent drive and throwing for another touchdown.

Events continued to work against Mizzou on the subsequent drive. Berkstresser, looking to find any kind of groove, was able to find Marcus Lucas for a long gain only to have Lucas fumble and turn the ball over.

Mizzou appeared to have Manziel on the ropes on third-and-goal, but the freshman star continued to show why he is the leading Heisman candidate. After avoiding several potential tacklers, Johnny Football regained his composure and hit Mike Evans at the goal line to push the throttling to 35-0.

After more anemic offense from Mizzou, Manziel had another Heisman moment. With all the time in the world to throw from the eight-yard line, Manziel once again eluded multiple Tiger defenders to rifle yet another touchdown.

Missouri finally received a spark on offense from the most unlikely of sources, punter Trey Barrow. With two minutes remaining in the half, facing fourth-and-three, Barrow faked the punt and ran for 20 yards. The run put Mizzou in A&M territory for the first time in the half.

Perhaps reinvigorated by the trickery, Berkstresser fired a strike to Dorial Green-Beckham who ran it to the A&M one-yard line. A play later, senior Kendial Lawrence, who surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in his last season, ran it in to finally put Mizzou on the board in his final game.

Missouri received the ball to open the second half, and it continued to take some momentum from Texas A&M. Lawrence, attempting to salvage his career finale, broke off a 38-yard run to A&M’s 18-yard line. After a touchdown pass to Lucas was reversed, Baggett kicked a 43-yard field goal to bring the score to 42-10.

After more stellar play from Manziel, Berkstresser gave the Mizzou fans a highlight throw when he found L’Damian Washington wide open for a 75-yard touchdown catch-and-run. Baggett would miss the extra point, leaving the score at 49-20.

On the next drive, the Missouri defense would extend its takeaway streak to 30 straight games when junior cornerback EJ Gaines continued his strong showing with an interception. Berkstresser took advantage of the turnover, scoring on a quarterback sneak.

Manziel answered with a touchdown run of his own, putting the finishing touches on his Heisman résumé. Green-Beckham finished off the high-scoring affair with a 25-yard touchdown grab.

The Tigers finished the season on a low note, and will now turn to an offseason plagued with questions about the quarterback position. While the team loses talent in Richardson and Lawrence, players such as Green-Beckham and Henry Josey will return. The annual Black and Gold Game is slated for April 20 next spring.

-Samuel Snow
23 Sports
Staff Writer