A pair of touchdowns by both Jared Perry and Danario Alexander propelled the Missouri Tigers (3-0) to an easy 52-12 victory over the Furman Paladins (2-1) Saturday afternoon at Faurot Field. Despite going three and out on their first two drives, the offense caught fire and scored 42 points in the first half.
"When we start clicking, it just clicks and clicks and clicks and you just got to keep it in that mode and not get frustrated when things aren't going the way we want to," Offensive Coordinator, David Yost said.
The scoring started halfway through the first quarter when sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert handed the ball on a reverse to Alexander who then fired a 40 yard touchdown to Perry. "We've been working on that play for a while now. (Alexander's) got a great arm, but he ducked it a little bit I think today," Gabbert said.
After a fair catch interference penalty against Furman on the next drive put the ball at the Furman 48 yard line, Gabbert hooked up with Perry on a 48-yard throw to give Mizzou a 14-0 lead. That touchdown gave Perry his first career multi-touchdown game.
"This is an opportunity for me. I look at it like that. I've been waiting for this opportunity. I'm trying to make the most of it," Perry said.
On Missouri's first drive in the second quarter, Perry continued his good game with a 16-yard run that put the ball on Furman's 40 yard line. Gabbert decided to keep the ball himself on the next play and his decision paid off as he ran 40 yards for his second rushing touchdown of his career, giving Missouri a commanding 21-0 lead. Gabbert's other running touchdown was an eight yard run in the Tiger's first game this season vs. Illinois. Missouri's first three touchdowns were within a span of five offensive plays from each other.
"I'm really excited for him as a quarterback, not the skill level, you can see he's very talented anyway," Pinkel said. "His poise, his smarts, his toughness, his competitiveness, I'm just very excited about him, a guy that's got a lot of things going for him."
Missouri scored four touchdowns in the second quarter, including Alexander's two touchdown grabs. Alexander's first touchdown was a 13-yard pass from Gabbert with 7:10 left in the second quarter giving Missouri a 28-0 lead and his second touchdown was a 17 yard pass from Gabbert with just 11 seconds left giving the Tigers a 42-0 lead going into the first half.
This was the first time since 2006 that a Tiger threw a touchdown pass and caught a touchdown pass since the Sun Bowl in 2006. In the Sun Bowl against Oregon State, Chase Coffman threw a 29 yard pass to Tommy Saunders and later in the game received an 18 yard pass from Chase Daniel.
Alexander's two touchdowns were sandwiched by a touchdown by the Tiger defense, their first of the season. Jacquies Smith intercepted a pass from Furman's quarterback Jordan Sorrells and returned the ball 43 yards for a touchdown, giving Missouri a 35-0 lead. Furman had a chance to get on the board late in the first half but kicker Matthew Cesari missed a 40-yard field goal.
Time of possession is usually a good indicator for who is controlling the game, but that was definitely not the case today. The Tigers held the ball for just 9:32 in the first half, but were able to cash in for six touchdowns. "Overall in the first half, I thought we had pretty good focus, pretty good execution overall," Pinkel said. "We started a little bit slow on offense again, a little bit disappointing but made some big plays, got things rolling pretty good."
Furman finally got on the board around the middle of the third quarter when Sorrells connected sophomore, Tyler Maples on a 21 yard pass. However, Cesari could not get a break in this game as he missed the extra point. Mizzou got just one touchdown in the second half, a one yard run by junior Derrick Washington late in the third quarter. Gabbert was pulled for Jimmy Costello after the Washington scoring drive, as Missouri was in complete control, 49-6. Gabbert finished the day with 256 passing yards and three touchdowns passes.
Grant Ressel kicked a 44 yard field goal to cap off the Tiger scoring early in the fourth quarter and Furman's Tersoo Uhaa capped off Furman's scoring with a two yard run for a touchdown. Furman failed on the two point conversion.
Mizzou returns to action for their first road game Friday night against the Nevada Wolfpack in Reno. Game time for this nationally televised game is set for 8:00 p.m.
"This is going to be against a real good Nevada team, a good quarterback," Pinkel said. "We'll have a team that plays very good at home, and Friday night national TV and everything so it's our challenge this week just to go out and play our A game ."
Pinkel also said senior Hardy Ricks and sophomore De'Vion Moore are expected back after sitting out Saturday's game with ankle injuries.