Ethan Burke – 23 Sports

The 2020 football season is off to a rough start for 1st year head coach Eliah Drinkwitz’s squad after falling to 0-2 on the season. The Tigers however, put up more of a fight this week but it was notenough to beat the very big, strong and experienced Tennessee Volunteers.

Right off the bat, The Volunteers grew momentum with a 3-yard rushing touchdown from running back Ty Chandler. Tigers quarterback Shawn Robinson started the game but wasn’t able to get much going as Mizzou was forced to punt both possessions he was in. Eventually, the strong defense by the Volunteers helped maintain the momentum for the offense as it led to a rushing touchdown by quarterback Jarret Guarantano which put Tennessee up 14-0 to end the 1st quarter.

After an ugly first quarter of offense, Drinkwitz decided to change things up and put freshman Connor Bazelak in at quarterback. Mizzou finally started to make progress on offense by moving up the field with Bazelak’s ability to connect with his targets before ultimately having to settle for a 27-yard field goal which was good by kicker Harrison Mevis. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they couldn’t keep that momentum rolling as the Volunteers responded with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Guarantano to receiver Eric Gray. The Tiger’s however, did not let an 18 point deficit phase them. Mizzou was able to find a way to put up points at the end of the half with a 50-yard field goal by Mevis to cut Tennessee’s lead to 21-6.

Unfortunately, the Tiger’s were not able to start the second half strong. After being forced to punt the first possession of the half, then Volunteer’s were able to control the tempo of the game. Tennessee was able to use up seven minutes of the clock for a possession which resulted in a 2-yard rushing touchdown by Guarantano. Despite the score, Mizzou did not give up. The very next possession they marched down the field and finally put the ball in the endzone with a 1-yard rushing touchdown from running back Larry Roundtree before failing the two-point conversion. Although they missed the conversion, the Tiger’s entered the fourth quarter with momentum on their side as they cut the deficit to 28-12. 

Mizzou was off to a good start in the fourth. The Tiger’s defense forced the Volunteer’s to punt after Mizzou defensive lineman Isaiah Mcguire sacked Guarantano on 3rd down. There was hope for the Tiger’s to make an epic comeback. Bazelak led the Mizzou offense all the way to the Tennessee 27-yard line before throwing an interception to Volunteer’s safety Theo Jackson with thirteen minutes to go. Like they say, good defense leads to good offense, as Tennessee’s offense was able to capitalize on the interception and record another rushing touchdown by Guarantano which sealed the game.

Although Mizzou did not come away with a win, there is certainly a lot of hope for Tiger fans after putting up a battle against a ranked Volunteers team on the road. Mizzou seems to be getting closer to figuring out their quarterback situation with Bazelak completing 13 out of 21 passes with 218 passing yards, but I wouldn’t give up on Robinson despite a bad day. Also, Tiger’s kicking game is strong this year as Mevis remains perfect from field goal range. Mizzou’s schedule doesn’t get any easier as they travel to Baton Rouge next Saturday to take on the defending national champs, the LSU Tigers.

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