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Mizzou's Greatest, #81: Riccio to Sesay, the greatest fake in Tiger history?

Sonny Riccio threw 22 passes in his Missouri career before transferring to Delaware. I remember only one of them. But that one toss threw a 25-year old monkey off of Mizzou fans' backs.


I went back to read up some more on this freaking amazing play and then I remembered that as usual our own fearless leader Bill C. and other members could tell it better than I.

From Bill's What We love features:

Any series about Mizzou and love has to start with the only Mizzou player to whom I have directly, personally expressed my undying affection. Sonny Riccio threw 22 passes in his Missouri career before transferring to Delaware to actually get some playing time. I remember only one of them. But you could make the case that it was one of the most important passes in Missouri history.

You know the story by heart, but I'm going to tell it anyway. It is October 11, 2003. Despite the most intense crowd in memory (somehow made more intense by a driving, first-half rainstorm), and despite a few early breaks and big plays -- a throwback touchdown pass to Brad Smith, a muffed punt by Nebraska -- Missouri entered the fourth quarter of a Saturday night game against the Huskers trailing by 10 points and staring a 25th consecutive loss to the Big Red Horde in the face. Brad Smith began the final stanza with a 39-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 24-21, then James Kinney (and an unidentified lineman) obliterated Jammal Lord on third-and-long, forcing a fumble that Dedrick Harrington recovered and returned to the NU 9. But the drive stalled, and Mike Matheny lined up for a 31-yard field goal to tie the game.

Cue it up to 7:21 ... or, hell, watch the whole damn thing just because. It's not the last time you'll see it on this countdown.

Fun fact: I didn't actually see the entire play live. I turned my back because I was a complete wreck and couldn't watch Matheny's field goal. I was waiting for the crowd to cheer and tell me the game was tied; instead, I heard The Beef shriek (and it was a shriek ... The Beef's voice does not crack often, and it cracked like a sidewalk in an earthquake), "Oh, they FAKED it!" I turned around just in time to see Sesay catch the ball.

As for the declaration of love? After the game, while racing to the 50-yard line to meet The Beef, ZouDave and others, I passed Riccio getting interviewed by Rod Smith of Rod's Big Ol' Fish fame (ah, mid-Missouri). I grabbed him by the shoulder pads and said, "I love you so much." His response? "Uh ... thanks!" I don't think this is why he ended up transferring, but I cannot be so sure.

From ZouDave in the comments section:

The Riccio pass happened right in front of me.

My season tickets have always been in Section C, which is right on the endzone in that southwest corner. Sesay got open about 30 yards in front of me, Riccio rolled to that side and hit him with that perfect pass, and I screamed so loud I went mute. I literally could not actually make any more noise at that point…my voice imploded upon itself. So I just stood there, in the aisle, with the Nebraska fan section an arms length to my right, with arms raised in a V and as loudly as I could, stayed silent and thanked Sonny Riccio for the bounty we were about to receive. final comment about this game.

While Bill C was proposing to Sonny Riccio, I was running from the south endzone straight towards the MASS of humanity at midfield. I was running with my arms spread wide open, ready to hug any living creature so long as they were a Mizzou fan. I’m sure I hugged at least a couple of complete and total strangers, men of course, along the way.

Anyway, I spot the TBS crew moving with purpose towards about the 30 or so and realize they’ve got Brad Smith ready to be interviewed so I’m running towards them to try to be part of the background. BOOM I’m flat on my back. No, I wasn’t the guy who got leveled by Kellen Huston or whatever that douchebag's name was. In my attempts to hug random strangers, a non-as-random stranger had found me. I looked up to see what had just hit me, and there, sans helmet, was #87 Thomson Omboga. I was all smiles and celebration laying on my back and I just looked up at him and yelled "DUDE!" and his response was "YEEEEAAAH, BOY!" and he ran off into the night.

I did ultimately become part of the background of the Brad Smith interview. You can very clearly identify my hand touching Brad Smith on the helmet during the TV broadcast (as long as you recognize people by their hands). Then I made my way to midfield where the team was celebrating, some random unnamed lineman picked me up and shook me while I pounded on his shoulder pads screaming "YOU’RE THE #$*%ING MAN!"

Then I felt a tug on the back of my shirt, turned around and there was Bill C grinning, ironically, like a Cheshire Cat. We had made a deal at the B&G game in the spring of ‘03 that if Mizzou pulled off the upset that year, we’d meet at midfield. During the tailgate that day, we’d reiterated this deal and sealed it with the idea that we’d make "snow angels" on the midfield logo (wasn’t this the first year of the new field turf and the new logo?). We kept our promises.

From MVPRoC in the comments section:

This was my first MU game.

I had never been to that big of a college football game before, I did not know what to do. I just stood there in the student section, then walked home.

I grabbed a beer from the ’fridge and sat on my little deck listening to all the fun outside with a big grin on my face for at least a couple of hours.

Wow, what sweet stories from this game.

I have now read these comments and seen the gif dozens of times and I still get goosebumps thinking about this play. It will live on forever as one of the greatest, ballsiest plays in Mizzou history.