On Saturday, the Missouri Tigers (8-2, 5-1) kept their division title hopes alive with a 34-27 road win over the Texas A&M Aggies (7-4, 3-4).
Missouri scored touchdowns on four consecutive 3rd-quarter possessions, racked up 587 yards of total offense, and held on for the win with a late 4th-quarter goal line stand.
After Braylon Webb and friends stopped Texas A&M on fourth and one from the Missouri 2-yard line, Missouri was backed up at their own 1-yard line with 2:47 remaining. Coach Pinkel told his team that they needed to get a first down, and the game would be over. Maty Mauk hit Jimmie Hunt on a quick slant to get close to the first down marker, and then on third down and half-a-yard, Marcus Murphy moved the chains. One play later, Texas A&M called their final time out, and with 1:07 remaining, Missouri began lining up in their victory formation.
“I’m really, really proud of our staff and our players,” said Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel. “To finish like that with our defense, and the offense gets a first down, game’s over, in a hostile environment. So, I’m just really proud of our team. There’s a lot of other stuff that happened in that game. But, what a way to finish!”
Missouri ran for 335 yards and 3 TDs on 49 carries (6.8 yards/carry). Mauk and the Tigers converted 13-of-21 third downs and had the football for 37-and-a-half minutes.
In the 1st half, it looked like it was going to be a defensive struggle, as the Aggies took a 13-6 lead into the halftime locker room.
Texas A&M took the game’s opening kick-off and picked up a first down at their own 40-yard line. But, the Missouri defense stiffened, and the Tigers got the football at their own 19-yard line. From there, Mauk and the Tigers put together a 9-play, 60-yard scoring drive. Missouri utilized a balanced attack to move the ball into the red zone. But a pair of procedure penalties backed the Tigers up, and Missouri had to settle for an Andrew Baggett 38-yard field goal.
Speedy Noil returned the kick-off to the Missouri 25-yard line. But the Aggies could move it no further, and Texas A&M tied the score with a field goal of their own.
Neither team was able to sustain any offense for the rest of the 1st quarter. In the 2nd quarter, Missouri failed to convert on fourth and 6 at the Texas A&M 35-yard line, and Texas A&M came right back and put together a 5-play, 64-yard scoring drive. The Tigers had gotten what amounted to a three-and-out, but Eric Beisel roughed the punter, and the Aggies were still in business. Two plays later, Kenya Dennis left his feet and missed the tackle, and Josh Reynolds took the quick screen pass 24 yards down the right sideline for a TD to put Texas A&M ahead 10-3 with 9:40 remaining in the half.
Missouri answered with a 13-play, 58-yard drive that resulted in a 35-yard Andrew Baggett field goal. On that drive, Missouri overcame a pair of red-zone procedure penalties to get it into the end zone. On third and goal from the Texas A&M 2-yard line, Mauk found Bud Sasser across the goal line on the left side. But, Darius White was ruled to have interfered on the play. The Tigers had cut the Aggies’ lead to 10-6 with 4:30 remaining until halftime.
Marcus Golden came up with a sack, and Missouri got the ball back with 2:22 left in the half. Mauk found Jimmie Hunt for 26 yards to the Texas A&M 38-yard line. But two plays later, Mauk hurried his throw, and the ball was picked off and returned to midfield.
On fourth and 3 from the Missouri 45-yard line, Kyle Allen found Reynolds for a 32-yard gain to the Missouri 13-yard line. The Aggies quickly called time out. Then, they closed out the half by kicking a 31-yard field goal.
Missouri took the 2nd-half opening kickoff and moved right down the field. Mauk capped off an 8-play, 77-yard drive with a 16-yard toss to Darius White along the right side of the end zone. Sasser and Hunt had each made clutch third-down receptions on the drive.
Texas A&M answered. Three plays later, Allen found Reynolds on a slant. Ian Simon took a bad angle, and Reynolds raced 56 yards into the end zone to regain the lead for Texas A&M, at 20-13.
Missouri quickly moved the football to midfield. Hunt made a nice reception on third down to extend the drive. On the next play, Hansbrough raced 49 yards up the middle to tie the score at 20-20, with 9:07 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
Texas A&M went three-and-out.
On third and 5 from the Missouri 25-yard line, Mauk ran backwards, and lofted the ball down the left side. It was a very risky throw, but Darius White tipped the ball to himself with one hand, and held on for the 21-yard reception. Then, on third and 1 from the Texas A&M 45-yard line, Hansbrough ran around the left side for the first down, broke a tackle, and took it to the house. Missouri had their first lead since early in the 1st quarter, at 27-20, with 5:41 left in the 3rd quarter.
Less than two minutes later, Missouri got the ball back at their own 20-yard line. Missouri had their run game working, and they were completing passes off of play action. The Tigers moved the ball right down the field, and Ish Witter scored from 16 yards out, the first rushing touchdown of his career. Missouri led 34-20 with 0:43 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
The Texas A&M defense was gassed, and they were being abused, so Coach Sumlin made a very intelligent decision. He went to the run game to try to give his defense some rest. Then, the Aggies hit some screens and some short passes. Allen and the Aggies had put together a good drive, and when Malcome Kennedy beat Duron Singleton along the left side of the end zone, the Aggies had cut the Missouri lead to 34-27 with over 11 minutes remaining.
Missouri ran almost half of that time off the clock, but Baggett doinked a 49-yarder off the right upright, and the Aggies had the ball at their own 31-yard line with 5-and-a-half minutes left. They quickly moved down the field, and had a first down at the Missouri 11-yard line. On second down, Allen found Ricky Seals-Jones at the 2-yard line. Michael Scherer and Markus Golden stuffed Brandon Williams for no gain on third down, and Texas A&M called a timeout to set up their fourth-down play. Allen started to his right, then he threw back to his left to the Aggies’ TE Cameron Clear. But Webb and friends were there to stop him short of the first down marker.
“It was a great play in a real critical situation,” explained Coach Pinkel. “We made a lot of plays today. I’m really proud of our football team! It was just a great team victory.”