Tigers Go Down At Home To Vanderbilt

On Saturday evening, the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-3, 1-2) defeated the Missouri Tigers (3-3, 0-3) by the final score of 19-15.


On Saturday evening, the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-3, 1-2) defeated the Missouri Tigers (3-3, 0-3) by the final score of 19-15.


The Tigers got off to a good start behind junior QB James Franklin, who was 5-9-0 passing for 56 yards.  Franklin also scrambled for 23 yards.  But, Missouri was unable to get it in the end zone, and twice the Tigers had to settle for field goals, while taking a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter.


But, Franklin had been injured, and he left the game with a sprained knee.  The Missouri defense held Vanderbilt to their second straight three-and-out, and red-shirt freshman QB Corbin Berkstreser brought out the Missouri offense.  Facing 3rd and 2 on the Missouri 35-yard line, Berkstresser went under center, but never gained control of the center-QB exchange, and the Commodores recovered the football at the Missouri 34-yard line.


Once again, the Missouri defense held, and Vanderbilt placekicker Carey Spear turned a fake field goal into pooch punt that backed Missouri up, as the Tigers took over at their own 2-yard line.


The Tigers failed to move the football, and senior punter Trey Barrow dropped the snap out of the end zone on 4th down, getting the Commodores on the board with a safety.  Vanderbilt returned the ensuing kick into Missouri territory, but once again, the Tigers held and Missouri took over on downs at their own 34-yard line.


But, Berkstresser struggled mightily, and Missouri was unable to mount any effective offense for the remainder of the first half.


Midway through the second quarter, Vanderbilt put together an 11-play, 76-yard TD drive that put the Commodores ahead 9-6 heading into the locker room.  A key play in that drive was a penalty on Missouri's Sheldon Richardson on 4th down for leaping over the punt protectors, a penalty that gave Vanderbilt a 1st down, and kept their drive alive after Missouri had forced the Commodores to punt.


Neither team could get anything going on offense in the second half, until Berkstresser and the Tigers drove 88 yards on 15 plays for a game-tying field goal near the end of the third quarter.  That drive got going with a 17-yard pass reception to Marcus Lucas, who fumbled the football.  But sophomore receiver Bud Sasser scooped up the fumble and advanced the football another 16 yards to near midfield.  During that drive, Berkstresser and the Tigers converted three 3rd downs, but failed to get in into the end zone.


Vanderbilt answered with an early fourth-quarter TD drive to regain the lead, going ahead 16-9 on a 14-yard run by senior RB Zac Stacy, who finished the game with 29 carries for 72 yards and 2 TDs rushing.


Berkstresser, who finished the night 9-30-1 for 189 yards passing, had an answer of his own.  Facing 3rd and 17, he found Sasser behind the defense down the right sideline for an 85-yard TD.  But, the snap for the PAT was on the ground, and the score remained Vanderbilt 16, Missouri 15.


On Vanderbilt's ensuing possession, QB Jordan Rodgers, who finished the game 14-24-1 for 182 yards passing, twice converted 3rd down and long, and moved the football 75 yards through the air on three pass plays.  But once again, the Missouri defense stiffened, and the Commodores had to settle for a field goal that gave them a 4 point lead, at 19-15, with 7:20 remaining in the game.


Berkstresser  and the Tigers would have one last chance to make it happen, but after moving the ball 47 yards on 11 plays, the drive stalled at the Vanderbilt 25-yard line.   Berkstresser was under a furious pass rush, generated by a variety of blitzes that the red-shirt freshman was ill-prepared to counter.


In the end, it was a familiar picture for Missouri, that of a beaten-up offensive line unable to protect the QB, or sustain a running attack.  And for the Missouri faithful, there was also the disheartening image of a finally healthy starting QB, who was playing his best football of the year, forced to the sideline with yet another injury, and forced to watch his inexperienced understudy struggle.


For Missouri, starting center Mitch Morse left the game with what appeared to be a knee injury.


For the game, Missouri out gained Vanderbilt by 100 yards of total offense (395-295).  Kendial Lawrence rushed for 92 yards on 21 carries, and Marcus Murphy had 1 carry for 25 yards, before he was forced to the sideline with what was reported to be a hand injury.


For the injury-plagued Tigers, an opportunity for their first conference win had literally slipped through their fingers.


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