The Missouri Tigers did not take their first lead in their home opener until there was only 5:38 left, but that lead would hold up as Mizzou rallied for a 27-20 win over the Bowling Green Falcons in front of over 65,000 fans.
"It was a gutsy win; really check who we're made of. In the end it will make our team a lot better," quarterback, Blaine Gabbert said.
The game started brutally for Missouri as they had just five passing yards in the first quarter and 20 total yards. The Falcons kicked off the scoring when senior quarterback Tyler Sheehan hooked up with Ray Hutson on an 11 yard pass, giving Bowling Green a 7-0 lead with 2:52 left to play in the first quarter. Gabbert would get sacked on the next drive and fumble the ball and Bowling Green's Carlos Tipton would recover it at Missouri's 21 yard line. Bowling Green went three and out on the following drive thanks to good defense by the Tigers. That forced the Falcons to settle for a 37 yard field goal by Jerry Phillips to give Bowling Green a 10-0 lead.
"I thought in the first half, our defense played really well," Coach Gary Pinkel said. "If we didn't play good defense there, we'd be in trouble."
Bowling Green added a field goal early in the second quarter to take a 13-0 lead before Missouri got on the board. Grant Ressel provided the Tigers only first half points, two field goals in the last eight and a half minutes of the second quarter including a 46 yard field goal with 1:38 left in the half to cut the lead to 13-6 at halftime.
"It was just kind of a rough start for the whole offense. You can't put any blame on anyone. You just got to take it if it comes," senior center Tim Barnes said.
The second half did not start out good for Mizzou as Bowling Green started with a 73-yard drive which ended in a touchdown. Willie Geter finished the drive with a one yard run into the end zone giving Bowling Green a 20-6 lead.
But the Tigers knew they were never out of it.
"You know whenever you start out, you're losing 20-6, there's always something running through your mind," Barnes said. "We just sat down on the sidelines and said we were going to put our foot down and we're going to go out there and score, we're going to try to execute. "
And they did start to execute. The tide changed as Missouri was able to put together an 87 yard drive late in the third quarter, including a 12 yard rush by freshman Kendial Lawrence and an 18 yard rush by junior Derrick Washington. Gabbert finished the drive with a 27 yard pass to Jared Perry for Missouri's first touchdown of the game cutting the Falcon's lead to 20-13.
"We had to get back to basic stuff, take what they're giving us, we had to run the ball, we had to get good yardage and first priority is to get first downs and we got that," Gabbert said. "[Perry] made a great catch."
On the next drive, Missouri was forced to make a tough decision with a fourth down and one yard to go at Bowling Green's 38 yard line. The Tigers elected to go for it and it paid off as Washington rushed five yards for a first down. Gabbert went on to throw a 33-yard pass to Wes Kemp for a touchdown on the next play, tying the game at 20.
Bowling Green could not recover from blowing a 14 point lead as their next drive finished with a huge sack on Sheehan by the Tigers' redshirt freshman defensive end Aldon Smith. Washington sealed the deal on the ensuing drive, rushing for a touchdown to give the Tigers a 27-20 lead they would not relinquish.
Gabbert finished the game with 20 completed passes on 33 attempts for 172 yards and Derrick Washington led the way in rushing with 120 yards. Perry gave Gabbert a lot of credit for the comeback.
"Just look at the fight, I mean he's not giving up. He's knowing he needs to go out there and make plays and I admire that," he said.
The Tigers return to the field on September 19 when they host the Furman Paladins at Faurot Field. Game time is set for 1:00 p.m.