Missouri Football, 105th Homecoming crowd stunned by Middle Tennessee State
COLUMBIA — It is a tradition unlike any other, the University of Missouri celebrated its 105th Homecoming Saturday. The university claims to be the original school to have a Homecoming celebration center around football when it hosted the University of Kansas in 1911.
The tradition lived on in 2016, but the result wasn’t what the Tigers faithful were hoping for as the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders came in and stunned a crowd of 52,531 defeating Mizzou 51-45 at Faurot Field.
Mizzou (2-5 0-3 Southeastern Conference) was led by a two-headed running attack as Damarea Crockett had 156 rushing yards and four touchdowns while Ish Witter finished with 121 yards on the ground.
Middle Tennessee (5-2, 2-1 Conference USA) scored on its first drive when Brent Stockstill found Dennis Andrews for a 15-yard touchdown to cap a five-play, 84 yard drive in under two minutes. The Blue Raiders took a 10-0 lead with 7:57 to play in the first quarter on a Canon Rooker field goal.
Following the Rooker field goal, Mizzou’s offense got moving. Damarea Crockett started the drive with three straight rushes to get the ball near midfield. After a 24-yard rush by Drew Lock on a designed quarterback run down to the MTSU 4, Crockett finished the drive with a 4-yard TD run.
The Blue Raiders picked up another field goal on the ensuing possession but the Tigers answered back when Lock found Kendall Blanton on a 15-yard touchdown pass capped by a tremendous one-handed catch by Blanton as he beat a defender in the endzone to make it 14-13 Mizzou following the PAT.
Each team traded touchdowns in the second quarter. Crockett scored on a second 4-yard rush which was answered two plays later by MTSU when I’Tavius Mathers had a 74-yard burst up the sideline for a score to cut the Mizzou lead to a point.
The Tigers appeared set to extend the lead but J’Mon Moore fumbled into the endzone and the Blue Raiders recovered for a touchback. Stockstill eventually found James Richie who broke a few tackles for a 56-yard touchdown pass as MTSU went back on top.
Crockett picked up his third touchdown of the half as the Tigers went for it on 4th and 1 from the MTSU 2 and converted to re-take the lead at 28-27.
With under two minutes left in the half, Tigers punter Corey Fatony had trouble receiving a snap, having to fall on the ball at the Mizzou 7. MTSU took advantage as Richie scored on one play later on a 7-yard rush to give the Blue Raiders a 34-28 halftime advantage.
The start of the second half picked up right where the first half left off with each scoring a touchdown in the first five minutes of the third quarter.
Crockett picked up his fourth rushing touchdown on a 21-yard run on the Tigers’ first possession of the second half as Mizzou went back on top 35-34. That lead didn’t last long however, as the southpaw Stockstill threw his third touchdown of the game to Mathers for a 4-yard touchdown and the Blue Raiders led 41-35.
Mizzou got down to the MTSU 3 on the following drive, but Witter was stopped on a 3rd and goal and the Tigers had to settle for a 21-yard Tucker McCann field goal 46 seconds into the fourth quarter.
On the following drive, after marching 70 yards in nine plays, Stockstill and Andrews connected for a touchdown for the second time and MTSU took a 48-38 lead with 10:31 left to play.
Less than two minutes later, the Tigers were back in the end zone as Lock found Ray Wingo on a 12-yard pitch and catch to cut the Blue Raiders lead down to three.
MTSU extended its lead to six points on Rooker’s third field goal of the game, a 21-yard kick to make it 51-45 with under seven minutes left in regulation. The Tigers offense then went three-and-out and MTSU ran the clock down to 41 seconds.
After a personal foul on MTSU following the punt, Mizzou’s offense took over at its own 27 with no timeouts. But the Tigers threw four straight incompletions and the Blue Raiders pulled off the upset.
[CORRECTION: This story has been corrected to properly identify Missouri's first Homecoming opponent.]