Tigers overcome shaky first half
by Mizzou Matt
KANSAS CITY, MO- For the 120th time in the series, and possibly for the last time, the University of Missouri and the University of Kansas squared off on the football field. The rivalry has seen ups and downs for both sides, and the overall record of the series is hotly contested. Mizzou fans will tell you that the Tigers lead 56-54-9, while Jayhawks claim it's tied at 55-55-9. No matter the overall record, no matter the season record for either team, this is a game to win, to make that indelible mark on history.
"If it's the last one, I'm honored to play in it." -Missouri defensive back Trey Hobson on the possibility of this being the final time the two teams will meet.
The Tigers, on the other hand, entered at 6-5, 4-4 and boasting back-to-back wins over Texas and Texas Tech, their first back-to-back wins of 2011. They hoped to overcome the tribulations of the past couple weeks that involved losing Henry Josey to a knee injury, coach Gary Pinkel being arrested for DUI, and using virtually all of the 60:00 allotted minutes to beat Tech. The Border War's trophy, the Marching Band Drum and the Border Showdown Trophy, have resided in Columbia's display case since 2009. They didn't want to give those up to "that school from the west".
But give it up they almost did. Sophomore quarterback James Franklin threw three interceptions in the first half alone, one of which was returned for a touchdown. The Jayhawks scored first on a field goal and Trey Barrow chipped in one of his own to make it a 10-3 Kansas lead going into the half.
According to the Fox Sports broadcast, Franklin's roommate, Josey, pulled him aside in the locker room to tell him "Don't worry about it. The first half is done. Forget it. Play the second half like it's a brand new game." Franklin did exactly that, with the help of miscues by the Jayhawks.
The opening kickoff of the second half was taken by Kansas at their own 28, and after three plays, netting -3 yards the punter fumbled the snap on the punt. Kansas' Mike Cummings recovered the fumble at the Jayhawks 14, which led to a turnover on downs. Missouri got the ball with their best field position of the game up to that point, and three plays later, running back Kendial Lawrence found paydirt to tie the game at 10.
The self-destruction of Kansas had begun.
Tigers lead 17-10. The kickoff following the TD was fumbled, but was recovered by Steve Mestan at the Jayhawks' 23. Kansas punted the ball away to Moe, and Missouri took over at their own 18. The Tigers would run out the third quarter clinging to a 17-10 lead, desperate for another score.
The first play of the fourth quarter was the last time either team would find points as Franklin hooked up with wide receiver Marcus Lucas for a 53-yard touchdown. Trey Barrow added the extra point to make it 24-10. The kickoff by Barrow was taken in by D.J. Bershears, but Donovan Bonner forced a fumble and Missouri's Jared Culver recovered. Three plays later, Barrow sent a 27-yard field goal attempt wide right. Kansas took the ball and marched down the field, playing into Missouri's hand by running the clock. In a drive that took 18 plays to go 43 yards and ran 8:52 off the time, the Jayhawks made it as far as the Missouri 20. An illegal substitution pushed them back to the 25 before Jordan Webb found Bershears at the Mizzou 17. A three yard loss followed by a holding penalty and a sack by Kenji Jackson on Webb pushed them back to the 37. Facing 4th & 27, Webb heaved a long ball toward the endzone. Jackson, who had made the sack just the play prior, hauled in the interception at the 1 yard line. The Tigers made it out of the shadow of their own goalposts to their own 32 before running the clock out with a Franklin kneel.
In the waning minutes of the game, as the Kansas fans were finding the exits, the Black & Gold clad fans of Missouri started chanting "SEC! SEC! SEC!" in reference to the Jayhawks' distaste for the Tigers wanting to leave the Big 12. For a school record seventh straight season, Missouri will be going to a bowl game, however Pinkel will not be receiving his bowl bonus as per the disciplinary action imposed by the University for his DUI prior to the Tech game. The Tigers finish their regular season at 7-5, 5-4, including a three-game win streak over the final three games. Missouri ends the regular season ranked 5th in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Baylor. The Big 12 has 8 teams with a bowl-eligible six wins.
REGULAR SEASON TOTALS:
With the win, Pinkel picks up his 84th win at Mizzou, putting him just eight wins behind Dan Devine (92) for second on the Tigers' All-Time wins list. He is moves to 16 behind Don Faurot (100). For 2011, Missouri outscored their opponents 386-282.
T.J. Moe, who carried the receiving corps last year with 91 catches for 1,045 yards, only brought in 54 for 649 yards and 4 TDs as Franklin spread the ball to his receivers. Moe also finished with 27 yards rushing and 31 yards passing.
Full stats can be found at: http://www.mutigers.com/sports/m-footbl/stats/2011-2012/teamcume.html