No. 19 Tennessee pulls away late to put away Missouri
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Even though the Missouri Tigers football team totaled 740 yards of total offense, which was one yard shy of a school record, it fell short to No. 19 Tennessee by a score of 63-37.
After the loss, Missouri falls to 3-8 on the season and 1-6 in the SEC.
The Tigers were committed to the run early as Missouri finished with 420 yards after starting with 112 yards in the first quarter. The Tigers' highest rushing total against a SEC opponent going into the game this season was 265 against Florida.
Damarea Crockett and Ish Witter carried the load on the ground. Crockett finished with a freshman Missouri school record of 225 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown while Witter finished with 163 yards on 31 carries and his first multi-touchdown game of the season with two scores. Crockett topped the freshman season rushing record at Missouri, the single-game freshman record and the first 200-yard rusher since Henry Josey gained 265 against Western Illinois in 2011.
Drew Lock finished with 343 yards on 21 for 43 passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions while his Tennessee counterpart, Josh Dobbs, was unstoppable with 413 all-purpose yards.
Both offenses got rolling early as the two teams combined for 700 yards of total offense in the first half and finished with 1,352 total yards.
On the Monday leading up to the game, Missouri Football Coach Barry Odom did not list a starting kicker. This came after Tucker McCann struggled making just two of five kicks against Vanderbilt. Senior transfer Ben Tesson started the game as place kicker, but failed to make his first extra point.
On the first drive of the game, J'Mon Moore dropped a touchdown pass bringing up 3rd and 6 deep in Volunteer territory. Moore redeemed himself with a seven-yard catch on the ensuing play to keep the drive going.
The next play, Damarea Crockett ran and end around for 22 yards into the end zone giving the Tigers a 6-0 lead capping off a 12 play, 88-yard drive after Tesson missed the point after attempt.
Tennessee stormed back on its second drive of the game with a 98-yard drive for a touchdown after Aarion Penton tripped as he attempted to turn and swat the ball out of Jauan Jennings's hands. Jennings took it 49 yards to make it 7-6 Vols with 6:01 left in the first quarter.
With the kicking game in limbo, Odom's game plan on offense changed. Early in the second quarter, the Tigers elected to go for it on 4th and 12 from the Tennessee 21-yard line. Lock's pass went high into the crowd intended for Emmanuel Hall as Missouri came away empty handed.
The Vols doubled down on the pass game after Missouri turned the ball over on downs. Dobbs launched a 57-yard pass to Josh Malone who beat Anthony Sherrils for the touchdown making it 14-6 with 13:50 left in the first half.
Issues in Tennessee territory continued as Missouri decided to go for it on 4th and 1 on the Tennessee 29-yard line. Once again, the Tigers failed to convert as Josh Augusta fumbled leaving Missouri, once again, empty.
Drew Lock and the Tigers stormed down the field on the ensuing drive after a 47-yard field goal miss by the Vols. Crockett rushed for 69 yards on the drive as Lock capped it off with a two-yard rushing touchdown. This time it was McCann in for the point after attempt, and he put it through the upright making it 14-13 Tennessee with 8:00 left in the first half.
Alvin Kamara punched the ball in the end zone from one yard out with five minutes left in the quarter halting the momentum of the Tigers. The score made it 21-13 Tennessee.
However, the Tigers came back the game once again went back and forth. The Tigers marched down the field as Ish Witter capped off the drive with a two-yard rushing score. McCann made the point after attempt as the Tigers once again trailed by one heading into half time.
Coming out of the second half, the mistake-free football Missouri played all fell apart as Micah Abernathy picked off Lock and returned the ball all the way to the Missouri nine-yard line.
The interception set up a five-yard touchdown pass by Dobbs to Jennings uncovered running a slant into the end zone. The score made it 28-20 Tennessee with 13:58 left in the third quarter.
Despite a field goal in the fourth quarter by Missouri, a pair of quarterback keepers by Dobbs for touchdowns as the Volunteers pushed ahead 42-30 early in the fourth quarter.
Tennessee stuck to the ground once the Vols got back on offense as Kamara capped off a drive with a goal line score seemingly putting the game out of reach 49-20 with just over 10 minutes left in regulation.
However, Lock and the Tigers led a seven-play drive resulting in a 50-yard touchdown reception by Dimitrios Mason to cut the deficit to 12.
But, on the next drive the Volunteers sealed the game with a touchdown run by John Kelly putting the game out of reach for the Tigers.
Missouri will wrap up its season against the Arkansas Razorbacks at home Nov. 25.