Rountree and Crockett lead Missouri offense

Larry Rountree and Damarea Crockett combined for 231 total yards to lead the Missouri offense.
Missouri running back Damarea Crockett points to the sky after scoring his first touchdown of Missouri's 33-28 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 at Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo.

Larry Rountree III jogged off the sideline.

In the midst of a game-winning 99-yard touchdown drive, Rountree was handing duties off to his running mate for the afternoon, Damarea Crockett.

After Rountree took Missouri from its own one to it’s own 32 on five straight carries, he handed the reins over to the junior. A combination of short passes and four Crockett carries pushed Missouri past midfield before Lock’s arm and legs finished the job.

Drew Lock faked a handoff and then ran toward green grass and into an open end zone.

A goal-line stand moments earlier had given Missouri life to start the fourth quarter, and in turn the offense took the life out of the Vanderbilt defense on a game-winning touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter.

Lock’s legs gave the Tigers a 33-28 lead, which is all they would need in their comeback win over Vanderbilt, but it was the running back tandem of Rountree and Crockett that got the offense rolling from the shadow of its own goal line and drove the offense for most of Saturday’s win.

The duo combined for carries on 10 of the drive’s 14 plays, starting with five handoffs to Rountree. Those carries went for a total of 31 yards, giving the offense breathing room while Rountree saved the drive from an early death by powering through a pile on a third-and-1 at Missouri’s own 10-yard line to move the chains..

“Crock going in and running them over, me going in there and running them over, it just wears on the defense,” Rountree said.

The game-winning drive was indicative of an offense that handed off to the duo early and often, with the backs taking a handoff on 43 of Missouri’s 82 offensive plays.

Crockett was the star with 137 total yards and two scores, including an 8-yard run that answered Vanderbilt’s early touchdown, but Rountree also played a vital role by using his strength in short yardage situations. Rountree was given the ball three times on third-and-1 and converted each time, moving the chains as the thunder to Crockett’s lightning.

The duo was able to shift in and out, trading drives and splitting carries. Crockett finished with 22 carries and Rountree finished with 21.

“Today was honestly the best day [of the season for us],” Rountree said. “We just fed off each other’s energy. When both of us feeds off of each other’s energy it makes us want to do better. When he gets a big run I want to get in and get a big run.”

The balance also allows both running backs to give each other a respite to regain some energy, while still putting pressure on the opponent’s front seven.

“Having a guy like Larry when once I come off the field and he comes on the field the defense doesn’t get a break,” Crockett said. “That really wears them down.”

Both backs showed their versatility when they caught passes out of the backfield. Crockett snatched a screen pass from Lock and took it into the endzone to bring Missouri within 2 points early in the second half.

The running offense set up short passes to the backs, but more importantly opened up the passing game for Lock, who completed 11 of his last 12 passes, and allowed a balanced offense to finish with exactly 253 yards on the ground and through the air.

“[Offensive coordinator Derek Dooley] told us when the run game is going then everything is going well,” Rountree said. “We know every game we’ve gotta bring it.”

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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