Missouri secures elusive sixth win over Arkansas, 24-14

Connor Bazelak made the start at quarterback for the Tigers, but Taylor Powell finished the game.

Missouri’s final game of its 2019 season might as well have been a fever dream, and probably was for the handful of Arkansas players who were unable to play due to mumps.

But despite injuries, a turnover and not finding the end zone first, the Tigers (6-6, 3-5 SEC) finally found their elusive sixth win with a 24-14 victory over the Razorbacks (2-10, 0-8 SEC). It was Missouri’s fourth consecutive win in the Battle Line Rivalry. The win would have secured Missouri bowl eligibility had it not been for the NCAA denying the university’s sanctions appeal on Tuesday.

The game was thrown for a loop before it even started when quarterback Connor Bazelak took snaps with the first team offense during warmups. Kelly Bryant was in uniform, but the freshman would make his first collegiate start due to Bryant’s lingering knee and hamstring problems.

Bazelak completed seven passes for 80 yards before being helped off the field early in the second quarter with a right knee sprain. Bazelak is still eligible to redshirt this season, having only appeared in three games.

Shortly before Bazelak left the game, he led a 14 play, 75-yard drive that was capped with a game-tying Larry Rountree III rushing touchdown. Arkansas had been first to find the end zone, scoring early on the first half on a 19-yard reception from quarterback Jack Lindsey to freshman Trey Knox.

Then, it was Taylor Powell time. The sophomore QB’s first drive ended in a 26-yard field goal by Tucker McCann, pushing the Tigers ahead to a 3-point lead they would keep going into halftime.

During that drive, wide receiver Kam Scott went down after catching a 30-yard pass that moved Missouri into the redzone. It would end up being his only reception of the afternoon as he did not return to the game, having sprained his shoulder and returning from the locker room in a sling.

Multiple other Tigers suffered in-game injuries, including Jalen Knox, who suffered a left ankle injury on a punt return hit on which he was initially called for targeting before it was overturned. Offensive lineman Case Cook also left the game following Missouri’s first series with a right knee sprain.

Coming out of halftime, Missouri quickly lost the ball and, at least momentarily, the lead when Powell was intercepted by freshman defensive back Greg Brooks Jr., who returned the ball 6 yards to the Tiger 26 yard line. Lindsey executed a short, 3-play drive that ended with a touchdown pass to junior Grayson Gunter to put the Razorbacks back on top 14-10.

After a three and out on its following drive, Powell and running back Tyler Badie helped Missouri respond, piecing together an 8-play, 84-yard scoring drive kick-started by a 31-yard rush. Badie ended the drive with his eighth touchdown of the season to put the Tigers back on top. It was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, extended by a fourth quarter passing touchdown from Powell to Johnathan Nance.

Powell finished with 105 yards on eight passes. His number one target was fellow Arkansan Barrett Banister, who caught six passes for 60 yards, a career high.

Defensively, Missouri’s No. 17 passing defense held Lindsey to just 75 yards in the air. On the ground, Arkansas managed 165 yards led by junior Rakeem Boyd. Sophomore linebacker Nick Bolton led the Tigers with seven solo tackles.

The win returned Missouri to a .500 record, where it will end the season because of its bowl ban. The Tigers are slated for their 2020 season kickoff on Sept. 5 against Central Arkansas, followed by their first Southeastern Conference matchup against Vanderbilt the following week.

Edited by Wilson Moore | wmoore@themaneater.com

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