By: Garrett Giles
The happy 105th homecoming game at the University of Missouri turned sour for fans who expected Mizzou’s football team to defeat the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders today. The Tigers would eventually fall 51-45, coming short of coming back in a game where defense was lacking for both teams. The loss drew somber boos for a team that seems to have fallen of the tracks since their near win against the Georgia Bulldogs about a month ago.
This is the second straight loss for the Tigers during homecoming. They lost to the Florida Gators last year 40-14. This is also Mizzou’s third straight loss in the last four weeks this season. Two of those losses were blowouts to top-ranked LSU and Florida.
Coming into this game, Middle Tennessee State was 4-2 on the season. One of their losses was a close game against the Vanderbilt Commodores as they lost 47-24. They also lost to Western Kentucky last weekend in overtime 44-43.
The point is simple: Middle Tennessee State is a decent team. Quarterback Brent Stockstill nearly matched Drew Lock in passing yards (Lock had one more yard passing at 281 yards), but Stockstill outperformed Lock. He threw four touchdown passes to Lock’s two. The passes he was making were incredible but some of those come from the extremely poor defense Mizzou has been playing as of late.
Mizzou gave up 584 yards in the game. There are a couple of the big plays to note for the Blue Raiders. One was the 71-yard touchdown run by I’Tavius Mathers that came on the second play of a 27 second drive moments after veteran receiver J’Mon Moore fumbled the football in Middle Tennessee State’s end zone that made the score 21-20 in favor of Mizzou still. The other was the unbelievable touchdown pass in the following drive from Stockstill to Richie James where three Tiger defender hit him and he managed to keep his feet for the 56-yard touchdown. This put the Blue Raiders up 27-21. Mizzou would score again before the half but so would Middle Tennessee State as they lead the Tigers 34-28 at halftime.
Mizzou would reclaim the lead at the start of the third quarter. Damarea Crockett scored a 21-yard diving touchdown run that gave the Tigers a 35-34 lead with 13:27 remaining in the third. That was the only lead the Tigers would have for the rest of the game.
Crockett was the star for Mizzou. He had 29 carries and rushed for 156 yards. He also had four touchdowns and basically carried the team on his back at times as he continued to get Mizzou back in the game when they needed it most.
There were plenty of problems though. Penalties killed the Tigers. The Tigers had 13 penalties go against them totaling up to 125 yards. One of those penalties came on a punt which forced the Tigers to re-punt the ball. That led Corey Fatony to fumble the snap and turn the ball over on downs on Mizzou’s own 7-yard line which ended up giving Middle Tennessee State the lead before the half. The penalties also continued drives where Mizzou had the Blue Raiders stopped on third down. Those drives eventually led to scoring plays.
The turnover situation was also bad. The Tigers had two turnovers and couldn’t create one of their own. They gave the Blue Raiders everything they could have asked for in a game that slightly favored the Tigers.
The main story here is the fact that Brent Stockstill and I’Tavius Mathers combined for 495 of the teams 584 yards and whether or not Mizzou will win another game this year. The Tigers, who are now 2-5 on the season, will play Kentucky next weekend here in Columbia, Missouri. The Wildcats are currently 3-3 on the season and can be either 3-4 or 4-3 depending on the outcome in tonight’s game against Mississippi State. The Tigers may not win another game this year though. Their next three games include Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina before they play top-ranked Tennessee and Arkansas back to back. The Tigers shouldn’t be counted out in the next few weeks, but after tonight’s loss, it seems like a win is unlikely in the Tigers’ future. Nothing is promised and no mercy has been shown to the Tigers since their 79-0 beating of Delaware State on Sept. 24.