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M-I-Z... E-R-Y: The Fifth Down vs Troy

Had enough of the basketball pain? Let's switch sports then!

Colorado 33, Mizzou 31 (1990)

Asked about the five downs, head referee J.C. Louderback deferred all comments to the Big Eight office, then said, "Our record on the field as officials is that they scored on fourth down."

Asked if there was any provision in the rules to remove a touchdown once scored, he added, "Only if there would be a penalty at that point."

There was none - and No. 12-ranked CU won its third consecutive game (4-1-1 overall) and its Big Eight opener. Afterwards, CU coach Bill McCartney emerged from his locker room and preferred to berate Faurot Field's artificial surface rather than address the five-down fiasco.

"The biggest story is that field is not playable," bellowed McCartney, referring to CU ball carriers or receivers losing their footing at least 15 times. "No one should have to play on that field. You can't even make a cut on that dang field.

"It's a joke to college football to try to run an option attack on that field. We slipped and slid all day, or we would have put more points on the board; I'll tell you that."

Retaliated MU coach Bill Stull: "They get five downs and he's crying? We should have stopped them on fifth down."

Hey Coach, you did.

What made the Fifth Down such an infuriating moment in Mizzou's history wasn't even that the Buffs got an extra down. Or it wasn't just because of that. If Johnson had scored easily on fifth down, and if Bill McCartney had expressed nothing but conciliatory regret after the game, it still would have been a historic occurrence. But Johnson didn't score easily on fifth down -- he almost certainly didn't score at alll -- and McCartney announced that his team basically deserved an extra down because of the shoddy playing surface. (And then Colorado won the national title, in part, because of another iffy-at-best call that enraged Mizzou fans all over again.)

The Fifth Down was the call that set off, basically, two decades of self-pity within the Missouri fanbase. Mizzou fans were already somewhat paranoid and guarded, feeling by nature as if they were basically playing by a different set of rules than everybody else. This game confirmed that, at least for one play, they were.

Troy 24, Mizzou 14 (2004)

Mizzou's coming off of their first bowl in five seasons, they're ranked in the Top 20, and they get a rare Thursday night national audience to showcase just how far they've come with Brad Smith at quarterback. Oh yeah, and it's my birthday in about five hours. Mizzou effortlessly drives down the field for two early scores, going 119 yards in 19 plays and easily going up 14-0.

But then, things change. Tyler Luellen can't block Demarcus Ware. The offense grinds to a complete and total halt, gaining just 217 yards in the game's final 3.5 quarters.

And then, Junior Louissaint happens. And then the wheels go flying off. On national television.

Of course, Junior Louissaint was the reason this became such a memorable "Mizzou" moment. Mizzou didn't just lose in an upset ... they lost in an upset because...

The biggest and strangest of all was a game-tying 63-yard fumble return by Troy offensive lineman Junior Louissaint in the second quarter. The 6-foot-1, 276-pound offensive guard alertly caught the ball when it squirted from Betterson’s grasp as he ran through the Missouri defense for a 10-yard gain.

Moving upfield to make a block, Louissaint caught the loose ball in stride and outran the Missouri defense down the middle of the field to knot the score at 14 at the 4:33 mark after Greg Whibbs’ extra-point kick.

The Trib's Rus Baer was nice enough not to mention that Louissaint carried Mizzou defensive back A.J. Kincade on his back for the last ten yards as well.

The next day was my birthday. Midway through the first quarter, I got a call from a friend (RATTERREE!!!) wishing me a happy birthday and mentioning how good Mizzou was looking. I responded with something to the effect of "Yeah, thank goodness. I was a little paranoid about this one, but things look good so far."