Lock runs rampant in bittersweet Faurot finale

Senior quarterback Drew Lock accounted for four total touchdowns in his final home game as a Missouri Tiger.
Missouri quarterback Drew Lock pumps his fist in response to cheers during Tiger Walk before Missouri's eventual 38-0 win over Arkansas on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018 at Faurot Field.

Drew Lock was no helicopter, but he looked just as smooth gliding through an especially swamped version of the Faurot Field turf for the last time. His two rushing touchdowns sent rival Arkansas spiraling out of control on a rainy MU senior day.

Upstairs in the Memorial Stadium press box, looking on was the Hall-of-Famer who engineered perhaps the most famous quarterback run in the history of the sport. Denver Broncos legend John Elway made his most iconic highlight with his feet, not his arms, when he went gracefully spinning for a third-down conversion in Super Bowl XXXII.

Twenty years after that 1998 classic, Lock played a hand – or foot – in all four of Missouri’s offensive touchdowns in a 38-0 romp of Arkansas Friday afternoon. Elway, the current Broncos general manager, said he was in attendance to scout Lock in a game that bridged one illustrious phase of the Missouri senior’s career toward the next.

Lock didn’t helicopter though, eh John?

“Ha,” Elway said. “He’s lucky; he didn’t need to.”

Lock said he didn’t know Elway was on hand, but he passed for a pair of touchdowns to tally four total scores, along with 221 yards through the air on 16-of-25 passing in his Faurot finale.

Each of Lock’s touchdown throws were to senior Emanuel Hall, a receiver who has described his battery with Lock like “peanut butter and jelly.” He reiterated the analogy on Friday, a day which included a 67-yard scoring connection between the two that seemed to mean just a little bit more.

And after starting the game with his legs, Lock finished with them, trotting to the sideline of his home field for the final time with 8:57 left. He hugged each of his teammates on his way out, gave a brief salute to what small amount of crowd was left in the rain, then saved the biggest hug of all for coach Barry Odom after reaching the sideline.

“I just said I’m proud of him,” Odom said. “There will be a time to sit down and really have our moment, but he’s done a heck of a job being Drew – being who we need him to be.”

What lies ahead for Lock in the NFL is unknown. What now rests behind him is a legacy that will take more distinct form in time, but remains just as unclear for now. It is already cemented by one characteristic: a love of home.

That much became clear to Lock during the week leading up to the final home game. Offensive coordinator Derek Dooley approached the seniors early in the week at practice and told them they would be speaking instead of him at the weekly meeting on Thursday.

Lock wanted to have thoughts prepared. He didn’t want to leave anything out. Come Thursday, he was the only one who ended up crying.

“I grew up loving the University of Missouri,” Lock said. “I want nothing but the best for this place. So when you get in a room with a bunch of guys that come from out of state and bust their butts to try to make this the best university, the best football team possible, it hurts my heart to think I’ve only got one more with them to be able to prove that to the rest of the world.”

That didn’t mean Lock wanted to blow senior day out of proportion, though. He said the challenge to keeping emotions in check was to look at it as just another game, but not to neglect the moments he’ll remember later in life about the last hoorah.

“I wanted to take in the casual gray skies,” Lock said with a smile. “The wind, a little rain at Faurot Field that the Tigers play so well in.”

Lock took to the rain pretty well. He went 9 yards on a read option for a touchdown on the Tigers’ opening drive. Then he went 3 yards on a read option for a touchdown on another one. His first ever two-touchdown rushing game occurring on senior day? There’s another thing to remember.

“It was a shocker to me,” Lock said. “I was able to take advantage of it.”

He may have even tried to take advantage two too many times. On a third-and-goal at the 8-yard line after his two scores, he scrambled – not by design this time – but was stopped short. On another drive, he lost 5 yards on a read option keeper from the 1, but threw for one of his two aerial touchdowns on the next play.

Lock said he was trying to get that third touchdown on the ground. It was another fun challenge for him to adopt in the moment, like trying to get a touchdown pass senior tight end Kendall Blanton. A pop pass designed for Blanton in the end zone didn’t work out either.

But running the play demonstrated the kind of meaningfulness Lock wanted on display in the seniors’ last game in Missouri, even amid less than ideal conditions and in front of a small crowd.

“It’s like, ‘We can go home tonight and sit on our couch, pity party about how cold it was and we played bad because it was freezing cold,’” Lock said. “Or we can freeze our butts off for a good amount of time and go home with a win and have some fun.”

Senior day may have represented a sort of crossroads in Lock’s timeline – supplied with a means to reflect on the past that got him here, provided an arena to perform under the watchful eye of those whose speculation may define his future.

So first, for the past: What has Lock learned in four years of games at Faurot Field?

“I thought I had a pretty good idea of what football is, and what it means to play football,” Lock said. “And how football can change you as a man and develop you as a man. But once I’ve been through these four years here, I have a better idea of what that actually means.”

Then as for the future: Lock says he’ll play in Missouri’s bowl game, despite a precedent of some NFL prospects forgoing the college football postseason. What’s beyond that in his career is up to NFL general managers, like Elway, the quarterback who gave the football world the “helicopter run” at age 37.

And fitting though it was that Elway should be on hand to watch Lock score twice on the ground, there’s just one issue: the 22-year-old Lock isn’t familiar with the notorious play.

“I’m not updated on the whole helicopter run,” Lock said. “I was probably not watching too much ball at that time. I’ll have to check it out.”

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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