Tigers Overcome Slow Start And Run Over Vols

On Saturday night, the #9 Missouri Tigers (8-1, 4-1) defeated the Tennessee Volunteers (4-5, 1-4) by the final score of 31-3 before a home crowd of over 66,000 fans who came out to root them to victory.

On Saturday night, the #9 Missouri Tigers (8-1, 4-1) defeated the Tennessee Volunteers (4-5, 1-4) by the final score of 31-3.

The Tigers came out running the football, and finished the night with 339 yards rushing. The Missouri staff had an outstanding game plan on both sides of the football, and the Tigers executed it to near perfection.

Midway through the 2nd quarter, Missouri went ahead 10-0 on an Andrew Baggett 24-yard field goal. On the next play from scrimmage, Kony Ealy hurried Tennessee’s true freshman QB Joshua Dobbs into an errant throw, and E.J. Gaines came up with the interception. On the very next play from scrimmage, Mauk found L’Damian Washington wide open in the right side of the end zone, and Missouri went ahead 17-0, to take control of the football game.

But the Tigers didn’t let up, as they continued to pound the football on the ground, and continued to take advantage of the Tennessee defense with the occasional down-field throw.

“I’m real proud of our team,” said Missouri head Coach Gary Pinkel. “I thought we had a real good second half. The field position offensively was awful! We tried to be a little bit overly cautious with lead there a little bit. I was real pleased! I thought it was a real good team victory. They’re a good football team, and I thought we handled ourselves well, and we competed well.”

Maty Mauk turned in his best game yet as the Missouri QB, as he took better care of the football than in his previous outings, and he took advantage of Missouri’s success in the run game by connecting for 2nd-quarter touchdown passes of 26 yards to Washington and 40 yards to Marcus Lucas. Earlier, Dorial Green-Beckham had displayed his elite speed on a slip screen that he took across the field for a 9-yard score, and Missouri took a 24-3 lead to the halftime locker room.

Midway through the 3rd quarter, Russell Hansbrough burst up the middle for a 26-yard TD run to pad Missouri's lead.

Meanwhile, the Missouri defense executed bend-but-don’t break to near perfection, as the Vols’ only score came on a 51-yard 2nd quarter field goal. The Tigers won the turnover battle 3-0, as the Missouri defense came up with a pair of interceptions and forced Dobbs into a fumble as he attempted to scramble for a first down. In addition to coming up with a pair of interceptions and forcing a fumble, Missouri sacked Dobbs 3 times, and the Tigers were credited with 3 QB hurries, and 7 tackles-for-loss. Missouri held Tennessee to 94 yards rushing, and 334 yards of total offense.

On the night, Mauk was 12-25-0 for 163 yards and 3 TDs passing, and he rushed for another 114 yards on 13 carries. Henry Josey had 16 carries for 74 yards. Marcus Murphy rushed for 44 yards on 8 carries, and Hansbrough rushed for 61 yards and 1 TD on 7 carries.

“I thought Maty did a lot of good things,” said Coach Pinkel. “You know really, he struggled a little bit. But you have to remember, he’s a red-shirt freshman, and this is only the third game he’s started. But I think he’s doing a lot of good things. And, I think we’re getting better overall as a football team, and we’ve got to continue to take that approach.”

The Tigers were 10-of-19 on third down conversions, and had 1 TD and 1 FG in 3 forays into the red zone. Missouri held the Vols to just 2-of-13 on third down conversions, and 0-of-2 on fourth down, in addition to allowing Tennessee just a single unsuccessful foray into the red zone.

It was a night when the Tigers controlled the line of scrimmage and took care of business.

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