On Saturday night, the #5 Missouri Tigers (11-1, 7-1) captured the SEC East Division and locked up a berth in the SEC Championship Game with a 28-21 win over Johnny Manziel and the #21 Texas A&M Aggies (8-4, 4-4).
“How ‘bout those Tigers,” exclaimed an exuberant Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel, who with his 101st victory on Saturday is now tied with the legendary Don Faurot for the most wins in school history. “How proud I am of our team! What a game! It wasn’t going to be easy. What a great second half we played! We actually held them to 21 points, which is impossible. And we scored 21 points on offense in the second half. And we did the right things in the fourth quarter. It was awesome!”
After Missouri struggled to a rough start, the Tigers scored on their first two possessions of the 2nd half to take a 21-14 lead midway through the 3rd quarter.
Early in the 4th quarter, Manziel drove the Aggies 98 yards on 9 plays to knot the score at 21-21.
With Missouri facing a third-and-one from their own 43-yard line, Henry Josey broke over the right side of the line and raced 57 yards to put the Tigers ahead 28-21 with 3:34 remaining in the game.
The Missouri defense held Manziel and the Aggies to just 7 points in the 2nd half.
The Missouri senior leaders came through when the division title was on the line.
“It was a big (team win), because it was obviously for a (division) championship,” continued Coach Pinkel, talking about how his team handled the big stage and the bright lights. “To be able to respond like that in that environment, I thought we actually settled down a little bit. I thought the offense in the first half was kind of erratic. And, I thought we settled down a little bit.”
On a night when the Missouri offense struggled to establish a rhythm, especially early, James Franklin’s leadership and poise was a huge part of the Missouri win, and in addition, Franklin finished the night 18-28-0 for 233 yards and 2 TDs passing, and he ran for another 80 yards on 18 carries. Henry Josey had 96 yards and 1 TD on 13 carries. Russell Hansbrough finished with 48 yards on 8 carries. And, Marcus Murphy had 2 carries for 9 yards and 1 TD.
L’Damian Washington had 6 receptions for 97 yards and 1 TD, a leaping highlight reel catch in the right back corner of the end zone. And, Dorial Green-Beckham finished with 7 receptions for 93 yards and 1 TD, a 38-yard bomb down the left hash from Franklin.
Defensively, Missouri held Manziel to just 195 yards passing, as the Tigers officially hurried the elusive 2012 Heisman Trophy winner 8 times, and sacked him twice.