Missouri football dominates Idaho Vandals on Homecoming

Junior Drew Lock threw for six scores to pace the Tigers to a 68-21 victory.

Maneater File Photo

Sometimes all you need to change the story of your season is a team that’s about to be relegated to the Football Championship Subdivision to come to town.

At least, that’s what appeared to happen on Saturday, as Missouri used all of its offensive weapons and flexed its muscles on both sides of the ball in a 68-21 thumping of the Idaho Vandals on Homecoming.

The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Tigers (2-5, 0-4 Southeastern Conference), who were paced by an offensive attack that Idaho simply could not handle. The team surpassed its previous record of most points against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent under head coach Barry Odom, which it set last year against Eastern Michigan.

Odom said his team played a complete game.

“Overall, the team played much better on both sides of the ball,” Odom said. “I’m excited for my team and the way they’ll continue to compete. They handled the task at hand today in the way I wanted them to.”

Junior quarterback Drew Lock threw for 467 yards and six scores in three quarters of work, including four in the first quarter. He also matched his career-high season total of 23 touchdown passes, which he set last season, and had a quarterback rating of 242.5, the second-highest of his career. He rebounded well after throwing an interception on the first play from scrimmage and giving Idaho a short field that it quickly converted into a touchdown.

Redshirt senior wide receiver J’Mon Moore said Lock showed maturity and poise following the turnover.

“I just saw him continue to play,” Moore said. “He let that go and moved onto the next play.”

Junior wideout Emanuel Hall remained red hot, hauling in three receptions for 80 yards and a score. His 45-yard catch with 12:50 left in the first quarter jumpstarted Missouri’s offense and eased fears that Missouri was going to play poorly after Lock’s interception. The team scored 34 points in just the first quarter of play alone.

Hall wasn’t the only target of Lock’s to have a big day. Moore caught 11 passes for 174 yards and a score, routinely making the first, and often even the second Vandal, miss in the open field. Additionally, redshirt freshman Albert Okwuegbunam caught four passes, three for touchdowns, with all three of his touchdown receptions coming in the first quarter. His touchdowns brought his season total to five in his first year of play with the Tigers.

Odom said he was very encouraged by the defense’s performance. Apart from a short field situation early in the first quarter following Lock’s lone interception that resulted in a touchdown for the Vandals, the defense was sound. The Tigers consistently made tackles in the open field, rarely allowing the Vandals to get into the secondary and pick up big yardage.

Missouri also had a commanding pass rush for the first time all season. The Tigers registered five sacks, including two from junior defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr., recovered a fumble and forced two turnovers on downs.

Missouri’s special teams had a new look, as well, and it paid off against the Vandals. Redshirt junior kicker Nick Bartolotta was solid in his first game action, as he made both of his field goals and went 8-9 in PAT’s. Bartolotta made his debut after sophomore kicker Tucker McCann was suspended for a violation of team rules. McCann will be back next week.

The highlight of the day for the unit was the play of redshirt sophomore wide receiver Richaud Floyd. In addition to a touchdown reception, the first-time punt returner weaved his way to an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown with 8:52 left in the first quarter to give the Tigers a 14-7 lead. It was the first notable punt return of the season for the Tigers, who entered play having returned three punts for just two yards, good for the second-worst average in the country.

Odom said the return was a turning point in the game.

“That was huge,” Odom said. “Richaud did a great job on fielding it cleanly off the hop and we had enough guys off the blocks to get him some space.”

Next up for the Tigers will be a road game at the University of Connecticut on Oct. 28 in East Hartford, Connecticut. The game will kick off at 5:30 p.m.

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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