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Missouri football routs UT-Martin for a Week 1 win

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The Tigers’ offense wouldn’t be denied all game, the defense shut down almost every Skyhawk attack, and Mizzou earns its first victory of the season in a blowout.

NCAA Football: Tennessee-Martin at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Out of all the analogies I’ve heard for the Drew Lock/Emanuel Hall deep-ball combination, “as good as pizza and ranch” might be the worst.

While I personally cringe at the thought of a nice pizza topped with ranch dressing, the sentiment remains true.

Lock looked for Hall on a number of deep routes Saturday against University of Tennessee-Martin (0-1), giving the senior quarterback the opportunity to show off his arm while giving the senior receiver the opportunity to show off his speed.

On its second drive of the game, Missouri (1-0) used just three plays to move the ball 44 yards to the end zone, capped by a 34-yard touchdown pass from Lock to Hall with 7:22 left in the first quarter. About 10 minutes later, Lock found Hall again on a 31-yard TD that even a pass interference for the defense could stop. And, with 8:40 left in the half, Hall broke loose down the left sideline and caught a Lock pass for 62 yards, setting up junior Tucker McCann’s first field goal of the season.

“Against a team like this, we just decided that calling the whole play sheet is not necessarily what we want to do, and honestly, the nine-balls were there all day long,” Hall said. “Like I said before, if the nine-balls are there, I’m not gonna run anything else.”

Hall ran loose all over the field to rack up a team-leading 171 yards, Lock completed 19 passes for 289 yards and four touchdowns, and the Tigers pounded the Skyhawks’ defense en route to a 51-14 win.

The competition between junior Damarea Crockett and sophomore Larry Rountree III at running back was a top-storyline for Missouri heading into the season, and after the first quarter, it wasn’t hard to see why.

Crockett used the first drive to show his shoulder injury was behind him. The junior touched the ball on six different plays, putting up 21 yards on five carries and catching one pass for 11 yards. Crockett’s finesse game was on full-display on the ninth play of the drive, scrambling into the end zone for a nine-yard TD.

NCAA Football: Tennessee-Martin at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

After Hall’s first touchdown made it a two-score game, Rountree took over UT-Martin’s defense on the Tigers’ third drive. He’d already ran for 10 yards the last drive to set up the Hall score, and seven carries and 32 yards later, Rountree took a one-yard handoff past the goal line for his first TD of the season just three seconds into the second quarter.

“It was amazing,” Crockett said of sharing carries with Rountree. “Just being out there with that duo, just knowing what we can do, it feels special. I know when I come off the field, I’m watching Larry and I’m like ‘Larry’s about to bust.’”

Missouri’s offense fired on all cylinders throughout the first half, and its defense did everything it could to match it.

The Tigers allowed just a single first down through the first 17 minutes of the game, it wasn’t until there was 9:34 left in the half that the Skyhawks finally got on the board. Led by the arm of Dresser Winn, UT-Martin stormed 75 down the field for its only touchdown of the half.

By that point, though, the game was pretty much already out of reach.

Lock was as efficient as he’d ever been in the first half, completing 16 of 22 pass attempts for 218 yards and three TDs, and Crockett and Rountree combined for 95 yards and two touchdowns as Missouri went to the half up 38-7.

The second half was a lot more of the same for the Tigers.

Lock threw three more passes for 71 yards and a touchdown before being taken out for redshirt freshman Taylor Powell and Emanuel Hall caught another deep ball for 44 yards with a man draped all over him.

On the defensive side of the ball, junior Cale Garrett and senior Terez Hall combined for 13 total tackles on the day while Hall and redshirt junior Jacob Trump registered one sack apiece.

A stingy secondary kept most of the Skyhawks passing game at bay with Cam Hilton recovering the lone fumble of the game in the second quarter, and the defense held the Skyhawks to just one more touchdown in the second half in Missouri’s Week 1 rout of UT-Martin.

“We had a few mental errors, but overall the whole defense played solid,” Hilton said. The secondary, we rotated a lot of guys in (and) everybody did a great job.”

In the first half, Lock moved to second on the Tigers’ all-time passing list on his second touchdown pass to Hall. Lock ended the game with a total of 8,984 passing yards, placing him 3,531 behind Chase Daniel in Missouri history (which, to put it out there, is a 321 average over the next 11 games).

“That’s pretty unreal. It’s pretty awesome to be able to be up there with those guys,” Lock said. “I know I looked up to those guys when I was playing quarterback at a young age, and to be able to compete in the SEC at the highest level and be able to do things like that... it’s pretty special.”