It looked like a mismatch of Kansas State nonconference proportions. Then, everything changed and the game looked like a blow out again, only in the other direction.
Spurred by 24 consecutive points, Troy defeated Missouri 24-14 on Thursday night. The Trojans used a trick play, a long touchdown run by a lineman and stifling second-half defense to pull the upset.
Early on, Missouri dominated, rolling to a 14-0 lead less than eight minutes into the game. From there, it slowly went sour for the No. 17 Tigers, who became the first BCS conference team to visit Troy's Movie Gallery Stadium on Thursday night.
Don't expect many more major conference schools there in the future.
After moving the chains for the first time earlier in the drive, Troy reached into its bag of tricks and found a good one. Quarterback Aaron Leak sent a backward pass to WR Jason Samples, who found TB Jermaine Richardson open downfield for a 26-yard score that cut Missouri's lead to 14-7 with 6:49 left in the second quarter.
A miraculous play, one that could only happen against Missouri, tied the game.
Troy TB DeWhitt Betterson rumbled up the middle but lost the ball on a sharp hit from a Missouri defender. The ball bounced free and then directly up in the air, where G Junior Louissaint grabbed it in stride and rumbled 60 yards for a touchdown, outrunning Missouri CB A.J. Kincade to the end zone. The run was the longest of the night and Troy had its second score in 2:33 to tie the game with 6:49 left in the half.
In what would become the game winner, Troy K Greg Whibbs hit a 43-yard field goal with just over a minute remaining in the half to give the Trojans a 17-14 lead. Altogether, Troy managed 202 of its 237 yards of offense in the final 9:30 of the second quarter.
Troy wanted more, overcoming a bad call in the process. P Thomas Olmsted pinned the Tigers inside their own 2-yard line with a perfect punt, and then Missouri TB Damien Nash appeared to fumble on the second play of the short drive, but he was ruled down. Missouri punted two plays later.
It only took two plays for Troy to punch the ball in for the third time. Leak scrambled away from pressure and winged the ball downfield to Samples, who had beaten Missouri CB Shirdonya Mitchell on the play. Samples made a leaping grab over Mitchell, extending the lead to 10 with a 33-yard touchdown catch with 11:13 to play.
Missouri had three more possessions, but could not move the ball against a suddenly strong Troy defense. Missouri QB Brad Smith threw his second interception of the half with 4:54 left, to Troy LB Arthur Adams, securing the loss.
After scoring on its first two possessions, Missouri could not find the end zone on its final 13. The Trojan defense, hapless early, stepped its play up several notches, confusing Smith into a sub-par performance. He finished with 25-of-46 passing for 225 yards and just 31 rushing yards on 16 attempts.
The Tigers dominated the first 20 minutes, racking up 10 first downs before Troy could manage one. The offense looked unstoppable in the first quarter, racking up a quick 14 points.
It took the Tigers just 3:51 to march 80 yards off the opening kick-off. Nash scored from six yards out to give Missouri an early lead
Mitchell picked off a pass from Leak on Troy's first play of the game, returning it 25 yards to the Troy 39. It took eight plays for Missouri to score this time, as Smith found TE Victor Sesay wide open in the end zone for a 10-yard score. Junior K Joe Tantarelli punched through the extra point to extend the margin to 14 with 7:28 left in the first quarter.
It looked like a run away. Nash already had 39 yards and Smith had completed 9-of-10 attempts.
Slowly, it all began to go wrong for the Tigers.
Despite an ugly stat line, Leak turned in a strong performance. The Missouri defense limited him to 7-of-20 passing for 97 yards and three interceptions, but Leak made the plays when the Trojans needed them.
Smith, conversely, could not. Missouri's halftime deficit forced the Tigers to become more pass-oriented, but Smith was not effective enough through the air to move the ball downfield. The running attack, perhaps Missouri's best weapon, was all but forgotten for most of the second half.
Betterson finished with a game-high 101 rushing yards on 19 attempts. Missouri out-gained the Trojans by almost 100 yards but did not win the field position battle. The teams combined to convert just nine of 29 third downs.
Missouri returns to action when Ball State (0-1) visits Memorial Stadium on Sept. 18.