Offense gets back on track as Missouri trounces Memphis, 65-33
Missouri’s 48 first-half points in the homecoming win topped its combined point totals from the previous two weeks.
Oct. 20, 2018
After three straight losses, Missouri was a team in need of a spark.
And what it needed, cornerback Adam Sparks – and pretty much everyone else – provided. In the second quarter of Missouri’s 2018 homecoming game, Sparks lept and intercepted a deep ball from Memphis quarterback Brady White to put Missouri’s offense back on the field.
The next play, Drew Lock found Jalen Knox with a dime over the middle, and Knox ran into the end zone as Missouri ran away from Memphis on Saturday afternoon at Faurot Field.
The interception was preceded by another long touchdown pass, that one to Albert Okwuegbunam for a 58-yard score. Big plays reigned, and Missouri (4-3, 0-3 SEC) rolled over Memphis 65-33 on Saturday.
After 17 straight Memphis points, Missouri’s 21-point lead was quickly cut to four and momentum was slipping away from Barry Odom’s team in the middle of the second quarter.
Lock and the Missouri offense were able to get back into a groove with explosive play after explosive play and put 48 points on the board in the first half. Those 48 points were more than Missouri scored in its last two games combined.
After Sparks’ interception sandwiched two big touchdown plays, Lock soon found Okwuegbunam again from 47 yards out to give Missouri a 48-20 lead at the break.
In two plays, Missouri’s offense had brought back its big play ability.
“We really beared down this week and worked on doing what we do best, and that’s throwing the ball deep,” Knox said
Lock completed 13 of 16 passes in the first half for 248 yards, more than he had in any of his last three games against SEC opponents.
Explosive plays continued in the second half as the rout was already on. Okwuegbunam caught his third touchdown of the day by snagging a pass over his left shoulder before coasting into the end zone for a 23-yard score in the middle of the third quarter.
“Albert was doing Albert things; it’s the easiest way to put it because you can’t even describe it sometimes,” Lock said. “It’s pretty special, the things he can do, and I think he’s gonna keep that up. You got a taste of old Albert and I think he’s gonna start balling soon.”
The next drive, Drew Lock turned and handed off to Larry Rountree III on the first play, and Rountree ran up the left sideline before juking by a defender and scampering into the end zone for a 59-yard touchdown. It was one of three touchdowns for Rountree. Missouri would finish the game with six plays of over 40 yards.
Lock led the offense with 350 yards and four touchdowns total, after three tough outings in conference play.
In the absence of receivers Emanuel Hall and Nate Brown, Lock found eight different receivers. Richaud Floyd made his first catch of the season in the second half after missing the first six games with a broken foot.
Missouri had its first two 100-yard receivers since Knox’s 110-yard performance against Purdue. Okwuegbunam led the way in that department with 159 yards and Knox added 104.
Without Hall or Brown, Knox has been the number one receiver for Missouri the last three four weeks.
“We’ve put a lot on his plate,” Odom said. “He understands at an early point in his career how much we depend on him and he likes that.”
The secondary had a bounce-back performance after a 42-yard interception return by Christian Holmes looked to have put the game to rest early in the first quarter.
The pressure by Williams and the Missouri defense came early and often from a unit that truly showed up for the first time this season. Missouri had three sacks on Saturday after having three sacks in the season’s last four games.
Before the pressure by Williams, Rashad Brandon had a sack on Missouri’s first drive and Jerney Jones blocked a punt to set up a touchdown by Rountree.
But two straight punts by the offense set up a 1-yard touchdown from Memphis running back Patrick Taylor, and a 30-yard touchdown pass from White to Tony Pollard brought Memphis back into the game before Knox and Okwuegbunam shut the door for good.
Terez Hall spearheaded the defense with a sack and two tackles for a loss after being ejected for targeting last week against Alabama. Cale Garrett led Missouri with 11 tackles.
The pressure aided the secondary, who put together their best half of the season with two interceptions in the first frame. Coming into the game, Missouri only had two interceptions all season.
“The quarterback, he was out there scared, I’ll say it,” Holmes said. “He was throwing the ball up, really kudos to the D-line for getting pressure there in the first quarter.”
Chris Turner leaves game with injury
Sophomore defensive end Chris Turner went down in the second quarter with a “head-neck stinger,” per a team spokesman. Turner did not return and finished with one tackle. He came into the game first on the team with two sacks.
After the game, Odom said Turner’s status was unknown after the game’s injury report.
Adam Sparks ejected for targeting
On the second to last play of the second quarter, Sparks was ejected for targeting on a block on a punt return. He missed the entire second half, but since the play happened just before the break, he won’t have to sit out the first half next week against Kentucky.
Originally the play was called a personal foul, but after the review, the play was upgraded to targeting.
“They reviewed it,” Odom said. “They must have seen something upstairs that warranted otherwise.”
Edited by Bennett Durando | firstname.lastname@example.org