Kony Ealy’s pick-six swings Missouri past Indiana

Missouri's passing attack notches career day.

Indiana's Greg Heban picks off James Franklin's pass in the first quarter. Heban had two interceptions in the first half, but Missouri went to the locker rooms up 28-14.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — With four minutes left in the first half, momentum favored the the Indiana Hoosiers (2-2). Indiana’s potent, hasty offense was moving the ball against the Missouri defense with a chance to tie the game going into halftime.

But coming out of a timeout with 2:04 on the clock, junior defensive lineman Kony Ealy stuffed IU quarterback Nate Sudfeld’s screen pass, catching it and returning it 49 yards to give Missouri a two-score lead.

“It changed momentum going into the half,” Ealy said.

Missouri (3-0) rode that momentum as the defense clamped down and receivers Dorial Green-Beckham and Marcus Lucas had career days, giving Missouri a dominant 45-28 win at Indiana.

Despite throwing two picks to Indiana’s Greg Heban in the first half, senior quarterback James Franklin threw for a career-high 343 yards, passing his mark of 325 set in 2011 at Baylor.

Franklin added two touchdowns, a first quarter fade to the sophomore Green-Beckham and a 14-yard strike to senior receiver L’Damian Washington in the fourth.

“There’s definitely a height advantage, and we want to take advantage of that as much as we can,” Franklin said of his touchdown throw to the 6-foot-6-inch Green-Beckham. “Still want to try and give him a good ball so that way they can make a play on it.”

Both Green-Beckham and Lucas set single-game bests in catches and yards. Lucas caught 10 balls for 101 yards, and Green-Beckham had eight catches for 105 yards. The last time Missouri sported two 100-yard receivers was in the 2010 Insight Bowl, when T.J. Moe and Jerrell Jackson combined for 24 catches and 281 yards.

“We went into the game plan looking at throwing the ball down the field and getting the ball down the field to our receivers,” offensive coordinator Josh Henson said. “We felt like we had an advantage in this game doing that, and it worked.”

Going into Saturday’s game, the Indiana offense averaged 50 points per contest. The Missouri defense held IU it to its lowest output of the year, even with a last second touchdown long after the game was decided.

“(I am) very happy with our players,” defensive coordinator Dave Steckel said. “Our players took a great focus to this. They took a great stance as far as unity. I think we played really well together as a defense in the beginning. The last five minutes were disappointing, but up until then it was pretty good.”

Senior linebacker Andrew Wilson was suspended for the first half of Saturday’s game after being penalized for targeting against Toledo on Sept. 14. He was not allowed on the sideline until after the first half. Wilson finished with three tackles in the second half.

“It was like the start of a whole new game when he came back,” senior cornerback E.J. Gaines said.

Missouri was stopped on fourth-and-4 at the Indiana 18 during its second drive of the game and proceeded to send on its field goal unit. Junior safety and holder Braylon Webb, who was a quarterback in high school, ran for three yards to get the first down. The next play, Franklin threw to Green-Beckham for his touchdown.

“It was calculated,” said coach Gary Pinkel. “We don’t do something like that just to say, ‘Hey, let’s see if it works.’ We’ve got to feel comfortable that the ball is in the right situation, block the right people, that we’ve got better than a 70 percent chance of converting.”

The Tigers will play their final non-conference game Sept. 28 before starting Southeastern Conference play a week later. Arkansas State, which lost 31-7 to Memphis on Saturday, will travel to Columbia for a 6:30 p.m. game.

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