Tigers run over Aggies

Passing -- who needs passing? Brad Smith, Zack Abron and Damien Nash ran circles around Texas A&M Saturday, propelling Missouri to a 45-22 win at Faurot Field.

Missouri got another confirmation Saturday that Brad Smith and Zack Abron have two different styles of play. They don't even break records the same way.

Smith broke one record Saturday, but he did it twice. Abron added two records to his name, but he accomplished both on one little run.

And in its 45-22 win against Texas A&M, Missouri improved its record to 7-3, the first time the Tigers have had seven wins since 1998.

"I'm very excited about being 7-3," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "To come from that first year we were here to this, I feel very proud of my staff and my players that the program's starting to work. Slowly, slowly, it's starting to work."

Smith, Abron and Damien Nash ran all over and around the Aggie defense, combining for 358 rushing yards. Each ran for at least 7 yards a carry, and they combined for six touchdowns.

(AP: Patterson) Nash scores on a dramatic first half touchdown by reaching the ball across the pylon while flying out of bounds

"I don't know how many runs they had, but they did a lot of running," receiver Darius Outlaw said. "You get your running game going, why stop it. We got three guys that can carry the load very heavily."

As Missouri jumped on Texas A&M in the first quarter, Smith became the first Missouri player in history to rush for 1,000 yards in two seasons. An 11-yard run late in the quarter gave him 1,003, but a sack on the next play dropped him back under. Early in the second quarter, Smith had an 8-yard run to put him back above 1,000. He finished with 136 yards on 17 carries.

The Tigers took the ball first, and seven plays into the game, Smith faked a pitch right, ran left and scored from 7 yards out. On the next possession, Aggie punter Jacob Young's knee touched in the end zone, and the safety gave the Tigers a 9-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.

Helped by a Texas A&M pass interference penalty, Zack Abron scored less than two minutes after the safety. The touchdown gave Abron the school career records for touchdowns with 39 and scoring with 234 points. Abron had 141 yards on 20 carries, and he came within 82 yards of Brock Olivo's all-time school rushing record.

"It means a lot," Abron said. "It will probably kick in later on. Right now, I'm just happy with the win."

Ahead 16-0, Missouri had problems separating from then on out. The Tigers had 50 yards of penalties, and despite great field position, Missouri had trouble getting drives going. Smith scored on a 19-yard run with 7:43 left in the first half, but Missouri failed on the two-point conversion and settled for a 22-3 lead.

With a 22-6 lead at the half, Missouri's offensive struggles continued early in the third quarter. Meanwhile, the Aggies switched from dual threat quarterback Reggie McNeal to pocket passer Dustin Long, and Missouri's defense had trouble with the switch. Long picked apart the Missouri secondary, completing 21 of 27 passes for 241 yards.

"I thought we got a little sloppy in the end on defense," Pinkel said. "My football team doesn't handle success very well. They don't handle it during the game very well."

His favorite target, Terrence Murphy, caught eight passes for 156 yards, including a 45-yard pass near the goal line thrown from fellow receiver Jason Carter. That led to a touchdown four plays later on an 8-yard Long pass to Tim Van Zant on a slant route to pull the Aggies back within 16 at 31-15.

"I guess you could say sometimes the defense gets complacent," cornerback Calvin Washington said. "I guess that's the ebb and flow of the game. There's really no excuse. We should have kept on dominating after it was 16-0."

Sixteen points would be as close as Texas A&M would get. On the next drive, Nash had runs of 6 and 17 yards, and then he scored on a 14-yard run to the right. To get the score, Nash had to reach the ball out over the corner pylon, breaking Pinkel's new ban on players reaching the ball out.

"Uh yeah, I had something to say to him after he reached for that touchdown," Pinkel said. "We'll talk about it tomorrow."

Nash scored again on 9-yard run with 4:12 left for the final score of the game.

"The offensive line is making great blocks, and then I'm sitting there and being patient and then going," Nash said.

Black & Gold Illustrated Top Stories