Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri ended one unflattering streak Thursday night against Mississippi State, scoring a touchdown for the first time in 48 drives.
The Tigers’ losing streak became four, however, with a 31-13 defeat in Missouri’s first Thursday night game since 2009.
Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott threw for 303 yards against the Tigers, who had allowed the sixth-fewest passing yards in the country entering the game.
Of those 303, 115 went to Fred Ross, who had one touchdown, and 102 went to De’Runnya Wilson, who had two. Prescott had a fourth touchdown through the air, the most by a quarterback against Missouri since Tennessee’s Tyler Bray had threw four in 2012.
The Tigers’ defense allowed multiple touchdowns for the first time since an Oct. 11 loss to Florida.
Offensively, the Tigers made some progress, rushing for 200 yards the first time this season. Missouri tailback Tyler Hunt had the Tigers’ two longest plays of the day, a 35-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter and a 72-yard rush late in the fourth.
Hunt finished with 85 rushing yards and Ish Witter had 81. Russell Hansbrough had 62 rushing yards and Missouri’s streak-busting touchdown, a 14-yard run.
The Tigers’ bid for their first win since Oct. 3 did not get off to the most auspicious start. The Tigers took over on their own 25-yard line, gained 6 yards on their first play and gave them back on the third, leading to a punt. Mississippi State ran just four plays on its first drive, but the Bulldogs made the most of it, marching 62 yards in 42 seconds to score. Prescott found a wide-open Ross for the 36-yard touchdown.
The Missouri defense settled in, however, to help things from getting out of hand. The Bulldogs punted on their next two drives and fumbled on the third, giving Missouri the ball at the Mississippi State 47.
The Tigers looked poised for a trip to the end zone when Hunt took that 35-yard screen pass to the Mississippi State 8-yard line. The Tigers lost 5 yards across the next three plays, however, and had to settle for a 31-yard Andrew Baggett field goal.
The drive did include a glimpse of backup quarterback Marvin Zanders, who came in for one play. Zanders ran a read option with Lock out wide, handing the ball off to Hunt for no gain. Zanders and Eddie Printz had been listed as co-backups to Lock, and Missouri had refrained from naming a second-string quarterback.
The Tigers forced a turnover on the next drive when Donavin Newsom knocked the ball from Prescott’s hands on a fourth-down run that would have been short of a first down anyway.
Thomas Wilson recovered the ball at Missouri’s 26-yard line, but the Tigers went five-and-out on the next drive, which was blown up by A.J. Jefferson’s 7-yard sack of Lock.
The Missouri defense then ended its third straight drive with a big play when Kentrell Brothers blocked a Logan Cooke punt, which Brandon Lee recovered at Mississippi State’s 18. Once again, however, the Tigers could only muster a field goal. Hansbrough took three rushes for 7 yards, and Baggett hit a 35-yard field goal to pull Missouri within 14-13.
The Bulldogs quickly widened that margin. Brandon Holloway ran the kickoff back 69 yards to the Missouri 29 and three plays later, Prescott dropped a perfect deep ball onto Wilson’s back shoulder for a 28-yard touchdown.
With just 86 yards on 28 plays up to that point and the rain beginning to pool on the Faurot Field turf, things began to look dismal for the Tigers. Instead, Missouri responded by giving their next drive a different ending than the 47 before it: a touchdown.
Lock got the drive going with a second-down run for 16 yards up the middle. Two plays later, he found Jason Reese for 9 yards and a first down. Witter then ripped off runs of 13 and 5 yards, and Russell Hansbrough ran for 11. Hansbrough, who sprained his ankle on his first run of the season, took the handoff two plays and cut through the defense for 14 yards, a dive and his first touchdown since New Year’s Day.
Missouri ran for 62 yards on the drive. It was their first touchdown since Ish Witter ran in a 1-yard score with 3:36 to play in the third quarter of Missouri’s Oct. 3 game against South Carolina.
The teams closed out the half with two more punts, but Mississippi State stormed out of halftime with a six-play, 77-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Prescott to Wilson. The two had connected earlier in the drive for a 64-yard pass down the right sideline.
Missouri’s response was a one-play drive in which Lock underthrew a questionable ball into triple coverage for an interception. The Bulldogs got the ball at Missouri’s 37 and drove 18 yards before Westin Graves knocked in a 26-yard field goal.
The Bulldogs made it three straight scoring drives with a nine-play, 81-yard march, capped by an 8-yard pass from Prescott to Fred Brown in the end zone.
Notes: The game was Missouri’s first on a Thursday night since Oct. 8, 2009, when the Tigers lost 27-12 to Nebraska. … Missouri had not lost four consecutive games since 2004. … Attendance was an announced 58,878.