The Missouri offense managed just 119 yards of total offense, but the Tigers returned a fumble recovery for a score, and they scored on a kick-off return, a punt return, and an interception return.
The Tigers dominated defensively and on special teams, as Mizzou registered 6 QB sacks, and the Tigers won the turnover battle decisively, by a 6-1 margin.
“I’m really proud of our football team, how we battled.” said Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel. “I’d never really coached a team like that 3rd quarter, where we had a punt return for a touchdown, a fumble return for a touchdown, and an interception return for a touchdown. Our offense, I think was on the field for like three plays until two minutes left………………………………………… We were playing great defense! And honestly, I shut our offense down. We were ultra, ultra conservative (offensively) at the end. They’re a good defensive team, and we were not going to do anything to mess this up. I’m very proud of our football team!”
Marcus Murphy rushed for 1 TD, and he also scored twice in the kicking game, setting a new school record with the sixth and seventh combined kick returns for a touchdown of his career.
Shane Ray registered officially 2 sacks at Florida, including a sack-strip that Markus Golden scooped up and returned for a touchdown. Ray actually had another sack-strip, but the officials incorrectly ruled it an incomplete pass. Ray has 10 sacks on the season, 2 sacks from a new single-season school record.
“In the 1st half especially, I think our offense did a great job of taking advantage of field position and getting scores when we needed it,” continued Coach Pinkel. “I thought that was really important for us.”
Marcus Murphy took the opening kickoff 96 yards for a TD, and 11 seconds in, Missouri led 7-0. Jeff Driskel opened at QB for Florida, and the Gators were beginning to move the football when Driskel and RB Matt Jones botched an attempted hand-off, and Missouri recovered the fumble at their own 49-yard line.
But three plays later, Maty Mauk hit Florida’s Marcus Maye right in the hands for an interception. Driskel and the Gators took over at the Missouri 45-yard line. But Florida managed just a single first down before they turned it over back on downs.
Missouri took over at their own 35-yard line, but Mauk and the Tigers were unable to move the football. However, Missouri punter Christian Brinser flipped the field, and the Gators took over on their own 10-yard line.
Freshman QB Treon Harris came in for Florida, and he completed a short pass to RB Matt Jones for a first down at the Florida 24-yard line. But on second and 9, Kentrell Brothers came inside on a blitz, hit Harris, and dislodged the football. Michael Scherer recovered, and Missouri was in business inside the Florida 20-yard line.
Marcus Murphy carried three times and scored from 5 yards out. Murphy was terrific running inside, making people miss, and gaining yards after contact. Missouri led 14-0, with 3:50 remaining in the 1st quarter.
Missouri forced a 3-and-out by Harris and the Gators, and the Tigers took over at their own 38-yard line. Mauk went backwards on first down, and was flagged for intentional grounding. But on third and 19, Mauk scrambled for the first down. In doing so, he took on a tackler about 2 yards shy of the marker, and powered his way across mid-field to move the chains. The drive continued well into the 2nd quarter and resulted in a 25-yard Andrew Baggett field goal that put Missouri ahead 17-0 with 8:38 remaining in the 2nd quarter. Mauk and the Tigers had run 18 plays for 55 yards on that drive, and had controlled the football for eight-and-a-half minutes.
Later in the 2nd quarter, Webb picked off a Driskel pass and returned it to the Florida 5-yard line. But a 6-yard loss on a first down run, and a delay of game penalty forced the Tigers to settle for a Andrew Baggett 34-yard field goal.
In the 1st half, Missouri had out-gained Florida 99 yards to 66 yards, and had won the turnover battle by a 3-1 margin. Missouri held a 20-0 lead at the intermission. Then the Tigers scored 21 unanswered points to begin the 3rd quarter, while the Missouri offense ran just 3 plays, and without a first down.
A pair of pass interference penalties had moved Florida to their own 41-yard line on the opening 2nd-half possession. But, the Missouri defense stiffened and forced the Gators to punt. Murphy fielded it at his own 18-yard line, and made the first guy miss. He made some other guys miss, and headed toward the left sideline behind a great block by Jason Reese, who drove his man about 10 yards down field. Finally, Markus Golden peeled back and picked off the only Gator who had any shot of catching Murphy. Then, Maty Mauk hit Bud Sasser on a slant for the 2-PT conversion, and Missouri led 28-0 with 13:01 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
Ray had gone off the field holding his right arm after registering a sack. After the two teams exchanged punts, Ray came back onto the field as Florida faced third and 9 from their own 33-yard line. Ray burst around the edge and stripped the Florida QB. Golden scooped it up and ran it in for the score.
Three plays later, Darvin Ruise stepped in front of a Jeff Driskell pass at the Florida 46-yard line and returned it for a score, to put Missouri ahead 42-0 with 5:57 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
From there, Coach Pinkel pulled back the reins on the Missouri game plan on both sides of the football, to protect against the big play on defense, and to run the clock and protect the football on offense.
Florida responded with freshman Treon Harris at QB, and the Gators abandoned any effort to get back in the game, instead taking advantage of the Missouri prevent defense for short gains and a couple of late cosmetic scores.
Coach Pinkel was excited and pleased with what he’d seen from his team. He summarized his thoughts by saying, “It was one of the greatest wins I’ve ever been a part of. I’m real proud of our football team, and how we battled. I’ve never coached in a game like that before. It was just a really great team victory for us! It says so much about our team.”