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Mizzou hangs on for 27-20 win behind Mauk's legs, Brothers' everything

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A bizarre road trip to Jonesboro saw the Mizzou Tigers hold on for a close win over the Arkansas State Red Wolves and extends Mizzou's road winning streak to 11.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Two years ago, Mizzou trailed Arkansas State 16-14 at home at one point in the third quarter. At the end of the third quarter the Tigers were up 24-17 after Mauk threw hit Wesley Leftwich and Sean Culkin for a pair of touchdowns. Arkansas State could only manage a field goal in the second half. The defense did the rest.

Mizzou struggled through the first quarter, failing to score a touchdown on their first drive when Nate Brown was unable to reel in a catch in the back of the endzone forcing an Andrew Baggett 30 yard field goal. A few plays before Brown was able to sneak a 19 yard catch in along the sideline that held up to official review ..somehow.

Mauk started the second quarter with a bad interception that was nearly returned for a touchdown before Arkansas State scored on a back corner fade over Kenya Dennis.

Drew Lock started the next series and promptly threw an interception of his own. Yes it was deflected.

Arkansas State scored to go up 10-3 and then a bunch of penalties were committed by both sides that mostly bogged down the second quarter.

Mizzou did manage to tie the game up briefly after a John Gibson interception when Maty Mauk found Downtown Nate Brown all alone in the endzone for an 11 yard touchdown

Nate Brown 11 yard touchdown

But just before half time, Arkansas State pulled ahead on a diving, toe-touch catch by Tres Houston after a twelve play, 63 yard drive.

HALFTIME

Mizzou's first drive of the second half ended after a pair of J'Mon Moore drops but the defense was able to finally apply pressure when Charles Harris got a tackle for a loss and a pressure that forced the first punt in 7 third down attempts.

The defense stepped up and forced a punt and the offense picked up a little steam after Ish Witter broke a 14 yard run then Maty Mauk found Wesley Leftwich for a 32 yard touchdown that tied the game at 17-17. This was the first career touchdown for the hometown senior wide receiver.

Wesley Leftwich 32 yard touchdown

The next possession saw consecutive tackles for a loss by Marcell Frazier and Charles Harris forcing another punt. Mizzou raced down the field and Mauk stepped up in the pocket to find Sean Culkin who rumbled into the endzone to put the Tigers up 24-17 at the end of the 3rd quarter.

Sean Culkin 21 yard touchdown

Mauk's touchdown pass to Sean Culkin put him ahead of Blaine Gabbert for fourth on Mizzou's all-time passing touchdown list with 41 touchdowns. Mauk then threw another bad interception but the defense held stout and forced a field goal that closed the gap to 24-20 with 11:30 left in the 4th quarter.

Andrew Baggett kicked a 41 yard field goal with 7:10 left in the 4th quarter to give the Tigers a 27-20 lead and from there the defense ensured the victory after a second Kentrell Brothers interception.

The Walking Wounded:

Russell Hansbrough healthy? Not really.

Hansbrough had 4 runs for 12 yards through the first half and looked largely ineffective. He finished 5 for 15 yards.

Evan Boehm healthy? To be determined

There were several high snaps, so I guess Mizzou is doing that again.

Maty Mauk

At halftime, Mauk was 8-16 for 68 yards and 1 touchdown to 1 interception, plus 3 runs for 24 yards. Drew Lock's first series was cut short by him promptly throwing an interception.

Mauk finished 16/36 for 148 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions but buoyed the rushing game with 75 yards on 10 rushing attempts. Yes there were a lot of drops and perhaps we'll take a closer look at it during the week, but yeesh this offense can not remain so one dimensional.

Maty Mauk did throw a 4th Q INT so there goes that chestnut.

The defense was amazing in the second half

With 10:22 left in the 4th quarter, ESPN showed this infographic:

Kentrell Brothers had 11 tackles, 7 solo and 1.5 tackles for a loss at half time, followed by Michael Scherer's 8, 6 and 2.5 but Arkansas State was out-gaining Mizzou 180 yards to 106 at halftime and seemed to be able control the pace of the game with explosive runs to the outside.

Kentrell Brothers' terrific interception

Kentrell Brothers finished with tied his career high with 16 tackles, 10 solo, 1.5 TFLs, 2 interceptions and a partridge and a pear tree. Seriously, make this guy the SECDPOW because he's going to be an All-American at this rate.

Kenya Dennis had a touchdown scored against him in the first half. I originally thought he was in coverage on the second TD but that was John Gibson. John Gibson did have an easy interception after a Charles Harris but in addition to the, admittedly tough to defend touchdown, committed a pretty blatant defensive pass interference. Youngster Logan Cheadle had some good defense on a third down that forced a field goal in the first half.

Charles Harris finished the game with 6 tackles, 5 solo, 2 sacks and 4.5 TFLs. Wow.

Arkansas State's jitterbug J.D. McKissic had 4 runs for 11 yards and 6 catches for 52 yards at halftime. He ended the game with 4 runs for 11 yards and 8 catches for 82 yards and zero touchdowns.

Drew Lock?

Only one series for wonderboy and he threw an interception. He did not see the field again.

Injuries

Russell Hansbrough did not finish the game. Ish Witter went down hard with 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter and was being examined for a concussion, according to Gary Pinkel.

My Takeaways

  • Quarterback play - Very iffy from a purely passing perspective. Some of that has to do with drops and a lack of a true running game but both of Maty Mauk's interceptions were very WTF moments.
  • Offensive line play - I'll leave this to former Mizzou DT Lucas Vincent:
  • Defensive line play - They stepped up in a huge way. Charles Harris was a force in the second half and Marcell Frazier had several good tackles. Both Harris and Terry Beckner Jr deflected passes at the line of scrimmage which is always something I love to see.
  • Tight end play - SEAN CULKIN!

Where do we go from here?

Mizzou's next game is a home stand against the UConn Huskies at 11 am and will be notable because it's the second annual #TigerStripe game.

Mizzou can not keep playing without a running game. Ish Witter had more bad runs than good and took too many losses. If Russell Hansbrough is hobbled significantly the Tigers are going to be fighting uphill all season.

The defense was somewhat leaky in the first half but they rewarded my confidence in the second half, allowing only 1 yard during the 3rd quarter and giving up only a field goal in the second half.

Also, Corey Fatony might damn well win Mizzou a game this year.

Offensive Box Score

Box Score Hero

Sean Culkin. 5 catches (and I believe zero drops) for 46 yards and 1 touchdown that went for 21 yards and proved to be the game deciding score.

Hear from Gary Pinkel