Middle Tennessee 51
“There’s not one day that I thought I’d be standing here and have this, but also along with that there’s no confusion at all in my mind that I didn’t think this was going to be easy,” Missouri coach Barry Odom said. “I didn’t think there was gonna be one easy thing about this. That’s life. I’ve got to deal in reality on who we are and where we are and what we can do to get that fixed as quickly as possible.”
The Tigers (2-5) racked up 629 total yards, with quarterback Drew Lock accounting for 344 yards (281 passing, 63 rushing) and two touchdowns, freshman running back Damarea Crockett rushing for 156 yards and four touchdowns and running back Ish Witter rushing for 121 yards.
But after taking the lead early in the third quarter they seemed to make costly mistake after costly mistake that they couldn’t recover from.
“You can’t put it into words,” Missouri redshirt junior defensive end Charles Harris said. “Credit to Middle Tennessee. They are a great team, a great fighting team. I can’t really explain what happened on our end. We have no excuses for that, just credit to them.”
"That was a good team and, just being honest, they wanted it more than us tonight,” Crockett said.
Middle Tennessee (5-2), which was coming off a 44-43 two-overtime loss at home to Western Kentucky, stunned the 52,351 fans at Memorial Stadium with an offense that the host Tigers didn’t have an answer for.
The Blue Raiders racked up 584 yards of total offense — the third time in three games Missouri has allowed at least 523 yards — with quarterback Brent Stockstill, running back I’Tavius Mathers and wide receiver Richie James leading the way.
Stockstill completed 23 of 41 passes for 280 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 70 yards on seven carries. Mathers, a transfer from Ole Miss, rushed 28 times for 215 yards and a touchdown and caught eight passes for 48yards and a touchdown. James caught five passes for 129 yards and a score.
“Our guys competed their tails off,” Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill said. “They never flinched. They never relaxed. This team played their hearts out. We got punched in the gut last week with our double-overtime loss and how we lost. To come back against an SEC team is huge.”
The Tigers’ defense that got roughed up by LSU and Florida the past two games was besieged by injuries: starting linebacker Michael Scherer (knee strain), cornerback John Gibson (knee strain) and safety Thomas Wilson (undisclosed) all left in the first half and didn’t return and defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. (knee) left the game late.
That didn’t help a poor defensive effort that was marred by missed tackles and penalties. (The Tigers, as a team, were flagged 13 times for 125 yards).
The Tigers trailed 10-0 midway through the first quarter but rallied with a Crockett touchdown run and a Lock touchdown pass to tight end Kendall Blanton to take a 14-13 lead. They extended that lead with Crockett’s second touchdown run early in the second quarter, but the visitors responded with a pair of touchdowns before the teams traded late scores.
Middle Tennessee led 34-28 at halftime.
Crockett’s fourth touchdown run of the day gave Missouri a 35-34 lead with 13:27 remaining in the third quarter, but the Tigers would not lead again.
Middle Tennessee took back the lead 2 minutes 10 seconds later and would not relinquish it. The Tigers trailed by three at two different points in the fourth quarter but could not get any closer.
“It’s the same disappointment,” Lock said. “It’s hard to describe how it feels. It’s dull. It’s not something that you want to repeat. I thought we did a good job during practice to get ready and make sure that this doesn’t happen. Now that it did, we just have to practice even harder to make sure that we don’t get this feeling again.”
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