With big offensive night, Tigers top Aggies

Mizzou wins the SEC East with victories in its next two games
Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Josh Reynolds (11) runs the ball while being chased by Missouri Tigers defensive back Duron Singleton (2) Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, at Kyle Field, in College Station, Texas.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — As Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen rolled to his right and tossed a throwback screen to his tight end on fourth down, Missouri sophomore linebacker Michael Scherer temporarily panicked.

“I lost my breath when I saw them throw it back,” Scherer said.

Soon, Scherer was able to breathe easy. Soon, he’d be celebrating a victory.

Senior defensive tackle Matt Hoch and senior safety Braylon Webb tackled Aggie tight end Cameron Clear for a loss of one at the Missouri three-yard line, ending the Texas A&M drive. And minutes later, Mizzou sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk kneeled the ball at the Missouri 13-yard line after the Tiger offense was able to move the ball away from its own goal line.

Mizzou (8-2, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) won 34-27 over the No. 24 Texas A&M Aggies (7-4, 3-4), and the Tigers’ wildest post-victory celebration yet this season ensued.

Junior center Evan Boehm high-fived fans from the end zone to almost midfield. Mauk walked slowly toward the Missouri fans, accepting a congratulatory hug from MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel raised his arms above his head as he walked under the Kyle Field tunnel, toward the locker room, while Tigers tossed pieces of their equipment to fans.

“You’re not more proud as a head football coach than when you see your team play like that in the fourth quarter together,” Pinkel said.

Much of Mizzou’s win, though, was the result of a strong third quarter by the Tiger offense.

In that quarter alone, the Missouri offense scored more points (28) than it had in the entireties of any of its other conference games this season. The Tigers tallied 308 yards of offense in the third quarter, averaging 11 yards per play and moving the ball for 14 first downs.

“It felt like practice,” Mauk said.

Mauk was 23-of-40 for 252 yards and a touchdown to senior wide receiver Darius White, who played in his first game since Mizzou’s Oct. 18 game against Florida.

Pinkel said having White and fellow senior wideouts Bud Sasser and Jimmie Hunt all healthy for the first time in SEC play made the difference. The trio, Pinkel said, has experience that can’t be replaced.

Mizzou had a season-high 587 total yards of offense. The Tigers were 13-of-21 on third down compared to the Aggies’ 4-of-14.

“If I had the answer to that, I would be in New York City in a high rise, with one phone,” Pinkel said on the Tigers’ success on third down conversions. “It would cost a lot of money to talk to me.”

Junior running back Russell Hansbrough had a career-high 199 yards on 20 carries, including two touchdown runs.

“We really needed this night,” Hansbrough said. “We haven’t been putting up points like that so for us to do that against a great offense like they have, it was just a great night.”

On the other side, the Aggie offense hung close. Special teams errors by Mizzou in the first half helped Texas A&M get scoring opportunities.

A big kickoff return by Texas A&M freshman receiver Speedy Noil set up a Aggie drive that started at the Missouri 22-yard line and resulted in a field goal a few plays later.

A roughing the kicker call on Missouri during an Aggie punt continued another Texas A&M drive that resulted in the Aggies’ only other score in the half.

Allen was 24-of-35 for 237 yards and three touchdowns, including a 56-yard touchdown on a slant route in Texas A&M’s first drive of the second half.

“They had a few big plays is all it was,” Scherer said.

The Aggies’ 341 total yards weren’t enough. Starting a drive with 5:30 left in the fourth quarter, Texas A&M moved the ball from its own 31-yard line to the Mizzou two-yard line.

Missouri senior defensive end Markus Golden, who had nine total tackles, including two sacks, stopped an Aggie run for no gain. The next play, the Tigers stopped the Aggies’ throwback screen on fourth down.

After No. 15 Georgia beat No. 9 Auburn earlier Saturday, Mizzou now must win its remaining two games of the regular season — at Tennessee and versus Arkansas — in order to win the SEC East and go to the conference championship.

Boehm said the Tigers don’t feel respected, just like they didn’t last year when they won their division.

He also said he doesn’t care.

“All we need is the guys that are in this room, all the guys that are in the MATC (Missouri Athletic Training Complex), all the guys that believe in us,” Boehm said. “That’s all we need.”

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