Missouri dives deeper in Alabama rout

Under a downpour, the Tigers remained winless after a 42-10 loss from Alabama.
Junior defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and junior defensive lineman Michael Sam attempt to sack Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron during Saturday's game at Faurot Field. Richardson finished the game with a team high 14 tackles.

Missouri did get a break during its 42-10 rout from Alabama on Saturday.

It came after the top-ranked Crimson Tide’s 27th unanswered point, which came with 8:40 stuck on the second quarter clock. It came with the Tigers’ defense on the field, on its knees without senior cornerback E.J. Gaines, who became yet the next casualty in the team’s injury-stricken season until returning later. It came with redshirt freshman quarterback Corbin Berkstresser and the Tigers’ offense stranded on the sideline having showed little signs of a heartbeat, with just 40 yards to their names compared to 303 from the Crimson Tide.

The Doppler radar showed a splash of red over the Columbia area like the color that covered pockets of Memorial Stadium. And at 3:43 p.m., lightning split the sky to the east, and it was judged to be within six miles of the playing field. The game was suspended. Rain continued to fall on what would later become the Tigers' 0-4 Southeastern Conference start.

Before then, team members spent 30 minutes in their locker room.

“We sat down,” senior receiver T.J. Moe said. “(Coaches) sat down, too. They said (to) chill out for a little while.”

A mass of yellow poncho-wearing fans crossed Stadium Boulevard back toward campus. There was no reason to expect a return.

But then sophomore Marcus Murphy gave one, initiating the touchdown celebratory cannon blast after his 98-yard bolt to the end zone for Missouri’s first score.

“I think it gave a little spark,” Murphy said. “Just that they weren’t beating us 28-0, it was 28-7. We showed that we can score and we can put points up.”

The spark carried over into a surge from his team’s defense. In Alabama’s following possession, Eddie Lacy — who had 18 carries for 178 yards and three touchdowns, the first of which being a 73-yard run in the game’s second play —fumbled the ball. Coach Gary Pinkel gave three fist-pumps on the nearby sideline.

With the recovery, the Tigers started at the 48-yard line but were unable to move from there, only moving back after being flagged for an illegal formation.

Behind provided pressure from junior defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, Missouri halted Alabama’s attack. Facing fourth-and-three, Crimson Tide punter Cody Mendell mishandled the snap and was tackled in his team’s territory, granting hope to Berkstresser and the Tigers in favorable striking distance.

Berkstresser lofted a 24-yard pass over defenders to junior receiver L’Damien Washington, who hauled in four catches for 72 yards in Berkstresser’s 10-for-22, 114-yard, two-interception effort. Their team was at the 8-yard line, and fans could be seen walking back toward a still-porous Memorial Stadium from a parking lot away.

But a play later, Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard came free on Berkstresser’s blindside and crashed into the quarterback to force a fumble, which was recovered as the second-quarter clock drained away.

Berkstresser blamed himself later for not seeing the backside blitz.

“We’ve got to score, period,” Richardson said after the game. “We’ve got to score.”

To open the second half, Berkstresser took seven plays and 51 yards to set up Baggett’s 41-yard field goal, the first the Crimson Tide has allowed this season.

Nineteen minutes and 25 seconds later, Alabama, who outgained Missouri by 340 yards on the ground, took seven plays to notch another goal line score and put the final tallies on the board and the final gashes in the Tiger defense.

Freshman Russell Hansbrough took a carry in the game’s final series and was suplexed like a victim in a WWE event by LaMichael Fanning.

With less than a minute to go, senior tight end Eric Waters caught a pass for one yard and was tackled hard to the ground. The game’s final seconds ticked off the clock, and a stretcher was wheeled across the field to him, lying flat on his back. Members of each team left the field all the while.

Waters gave fans a thumbs-up as he was carted off and would be released hours later from the Missouri Orthopedic Institute with tests coming back “normal,” showing a muscle strain, trainer Rex Sharp said.

Alabama coach Nick Saban pointed out the Tigers’ injury situation when asked about their ability to compete in the SEC.

“They certainly can compete in our league,” he said. “I don’t think we could compete very well if we lost key players in key positions.”

The Tigers, struggling to find mercy on the season, approach a bye week before hosting Kentucky for Homecoming weekend.

Pinkel was asked about the importance of the coming week.

“To get a break, to get a rest,” he said. “We’ve had a rugged schedule to this point. … Hopefully some guys will get healed up. There’s half a season left.”

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