For a moment, Drew Lock looked like he would do it.
He found his favorite receiver, J’Mon Moore, over the middle of the field. The Tigers trailed by one, and Moore’s 17 yard reception was a good start to the drive. After the catch, green grass was in front of him. If he had gone down, Mizzou would have set itself nicely at midfield with a little over a minute left. Except it was the only play of the drive; Moore fumbled the football after Georgia’s Juwan Briscoe’s helmet struck the ball on Moore’s right hip.
The Bulldogs recovered and took two kneel downs to seal a 28-27 improbable victory over the Tigers.
Five second half turnovers and a stud freshman quarterback on the other side were too much to overcome.
After the game, the usually candid Moore was quite the opposite, and rightfully so. The junior had a career day with eight catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns and was thinking “end zone” on his final catch, and had the chance stripped away from him.
“Toughest lost I’ve ever faced in the game,” Moore said. “I was definitely thinking I could get past that defender. I just lost focus.”
Barry Odom stepped to the podium after his first loss of his career at home. He knew the stakes of the game and he knew that the Tigers had every chance to win it. His cheeks and eyes were red. He paused more than a couple times to gather himself during the post-game press conference. Chances are he didn’t hold back after he addressed his team immediately after the loss.
“I’m about dealing with truth and honesty,” Odom said. “I’m not very good at hiding my emotions.”
Though the players didn’t have the similar facial cues as their head coaches, they were equally as devastated. All said they are eager to watch the film tomorrow, move on and forget about the game.
There are some aspects of the loss for Mizzou to hang its hat on. The game plan was to stop, or limit Nick Chubb to the best of its ability. The Tigers did that. Chubb had 64 yards on 19 carries for an average of 3.3 yards. If they could slow down Chubb, the plan was to make Jacob Eason beat them. He did.
It took all of 2:03 minutes for Eason to lead an 80 yard charge down the field for the game-winning score. On the final play of the drive, Eason found Isaiah McKenzie in the end zone. McKenzie had one-on-one coverage with Aarion Penton, and the throw was right on the money.
The raucous-up-until-that-point crowd at Faurot Field fell completely silent. The void was filled by a small, but now-vocal pocket of fans in red.
“U-GA! U-GA! U-GA!” the Bulldogs fans chanted.
In an all-around emotional game, the Tigers came up short. Next week would be the time to take its emotions against an inferior program in Delaware State. If Mizzou doesn’t, there will be less tears and more anger for the rest of the year.