For 12 quarters and one minute, Arkansas’ defense failed to give up a touchdown to LSU, Ole Miss and Missouri.
But in a game where the Tigers ended up running a whopping 83 plays and the Razorback offense just couldn’t get anything going after halftime, that defense finally did yield.
Maty Mauk threw a touchdown pass, Missouri used trick play on the two-point conversion and then Marcus Murphy ran in from 12 yards out as the Tigers scored 15 fourth-quarter points and rallied past Arkansas 21-14 Friday before 71,618 fans at Faurot Field.
“I think our defense played well, but we might have worn down in the fourth quarter,” Razorback head coach Bret Bielema said. “For us to beat an SEC team of this caliber on the road, you’ve got to play a lot more cleanly.”
Arkansas had three fumbles and lost two and also had season-high 12 penalties for 93 yards, including nine in the first half alone that kept them from building on a 14-6 lead at intermission.
“One of the things we preach on every day is to eliminate unforced errors and there were some uncharacteristic offsides, a couple of personal fouls and we obviously have to take better care of the football,” Bielema added.
The win for Missouri (10-2, 7-1) clinched a second straight SEC Eastern Division title and trip to the league championship game and also gave it a victory in the first meeting of what has been dubbed the “Battle Line Rivalry.”
“It means an awful lot to me,” Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said. “I love my team. This has not been an easy year, but we battled and competed…We sold Faurot Field out tonight and this place was rocking. There are a lot of things to be thankful for.
“Whoever we play next week, it’s going to be a huge game,” Pinkel added. “It’s our second time down there (in Atlanta) in a row, and I’ll tell you this, it’s hard to do.”
Arkansas (6-6, 2-6) had shut out No. 17 LSU and No. 8 Ole Miss by a combined score of 47-0 the last two weeks to become bowl eligible.
“I’d put our 6-and-6 football team against anybody,” Beielema said. “As we proved here today, they’re going to go play in Atlanta for a chance to win the SEC Championship and I bet you that they don’t want to go four quarters again. I think this is a nice start to the rivalry. Our guys will be spirited and ready to play in a bowl.”
Pinkel, who watched Mauk complete 25-of-42 passes for 265 yards and his offense have a 423-288 total offense advantage, was impressed with his foe.
“Unfortunately he (Bielema) is going to have them very, very good very soon,” Pinkel said. “That’s all we need - another great team in the SEC.”
Senior defensive end Trey Flowers was obviously disappointed.
“I know what we are capable of,” Flowers said. “When you have penalties like that and you’re playing in front of the other team’s home crowd, it messes with you a bit on the snap count and turnovers.”
Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen played despite suffering an oblique injury against Ole Miss.
He was 7-of-10 passing in first half as Arkansas built a 14-3 lead, but ended up going just 6-of-20 passing after that.
“It was 100 percent effort,” Bielema said. “He just wasn’t 100 percent. Still we thought he gave us the best chance to win.”
Allen had numerous passes sail high on him after intermission.
“A lot of guys played through some pain today,” Bielema said. “Obviously you could see the determination of Brandon Allen. It was 100 percent effort. He just wasn’t 100 percent. We thought he gave us the best chance to win and he wanted to be out there.”
Allen knew that he would have some issues in the second half.
“We knew it was going to start tightening up on me, but I thought I was healthy enough to play so I played,” Allen said. “I missed a lot of easy throws. Hurt or not. A lot of third down throws I missed that would’ve kept drives alive.
“We rehabbed all week and we used some medicine (today),” Allen added. “Late in the last couple of drives Coach Bielema asked me if it was good and I said I was fine. I wanted to stay in. It was my decision to stay in.”
Allen ended the day 13-of-30 passing for 133 yards passing while Arkansas rushed for 155 yards as Joanthan Williams carried 13 times for 72 yards and Alex Collins had 14 carries for 59 yards.
Collins’ total meant he joined Williams in getting over the 1,000-yard mark - the second time in as many years he has rushed for over 1,000.
Arkansas lost its last chance to tie the game when Collins fumbled with just over two minutes left in the game and - after earlier Collins being ruled down - a replay review overturned the call.
It was the second time Arkansas lost a review - the first one coming when Mauk was drilled and fumbled at Missouri’s 19 with Arkansas leading 14-3 late in the second quarter.
The replay review official ruled it to be an incomplete pass.
“It was pretty big,” Flowers said. “It was in their territory and almost in their red zone. If we had gotten that then we could’ve put more points on the board. That’s just adversity you have to get through. The officials made their decision.”
The day started with Missouri players refusing to shake Arkansas’ captains when they met at midfield for the coin toss.
After Missouri went thee-and-out, Arkansas took a 7-0 lead by scoring on its first possession of the game for the sixth straight time.
Allen was 5-of-6 passing for 46 yards on the drive, which was capped by his 23-yard screen pass that Williams took in for a the score with 6:48 left in the first quarter.
Adam McFain added the PAT after the 11-play, 70-yard drive that lasted 6:49 and on which the Razorbacks converted all three third downs they faced.
“The way Brandon came out and played today was something to be credited,” Arkansas offensive lineman Brey Cook said. “He played very well and to see him come out with that injury and you know how badly he was hurting, it was special to see him out there. It was fun to go play for him.”
Missouri cut that to 7-3 early in the second quarter when Andrew Baggett drilled a 52-yard field goal at the 14:23 mark.
Jared Cornelius sparked the second score when he returned a punt 35 yards to the Missouri 31.
Six plays later, Allen hit Keon Hatcher on a 12-yard slant pass for the score. McFain’s PAT pushed the lead to 14-3 with 7:15 left in the second quarter.
Baggett became the first Missouri kicker to make two 50-yard field goals in a game when made a 50-yard to cut it 14-6 as time ran out in the half.
He got the chance because the replay official overruled a Mauk fumble that Tawain Johnson had recovered at the Tigers’ 19.
Darius Philon also helped Missouri when he got a late hit penalty on Mauk during the drive.
“Those two field goals in the first half were so important,” Pinkel said. “It’s so important that we came away with points…They were huge points. He had two field goals that were really long.”
Baggett had struggled in his team’s win last week at Tennessee, including misses on a pair of PATs. He did have a field goal blocked in the second half against Arkansas.
“It’s a testament to him because he had tough week last week,” Pinkel said. “It was nice to see him bounce back and the players had reached down to pick him up.”
Arkansas could end up in either the Liberty, Independence, Music City, Texas or Birmingham bowls.
“We’ll come out of this and I think we learned a lot of lessons for the guys that will come back with us a year from now,” Bielema said. “We’ll take this week off to get ourselves a little bit healthy and let our guys focus on academics.
“My guess is that we will be energized and very excited bowl team,” Bielema added.
D.J. Dean scoops the ball for a pass interception.
Jonathan Williams fights off tackle for yardage.
Alex Collins waits for his blocking on a sweep.
Darius Philon rushes Maty Mauk.
Trey Flowers sacks Mauk.
Jonathan Williams tries to get to the corner.
Sam Irwin-Hill rolls with a fake punt.
Kody Walker was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-3 kicking situation.
Photos by Jason Ivester
Missouri 21, Arkansas 14
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