From their military tribute uniforms to playing of Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone,” before the game, Missouri football seemed committed to the Top Gun aesthetic for Saturday’s match up against Florida. The end result, however, was decidedly less high-flying.
After more than a month on the road, Missouri hoped a return to Faurot Field would spark some life on both sides of the ball. Much like the past few weeks, however, only the defense seemed to respond.
After allowing a 47-yard field goal on the first drive of the game, Missouri’s defense put Florida in a chokehold they wouldn’t escape for another two quarters. Kobie Whiteside and Jordan Elliott led a defensive line that consistently pressured Gator quarterback Kyle Trask, while the secondary put Florida’s tall receivers on lockdown. Of the ensuing six drives after the opening field goal, the Gators would punt on five.
The offense, handed several chances to take an early edge, continued the struggles they’ve had since Vanderbilt. Returning from a hamstring injury, quarterback Kelly Bryant looked comfortable running the ball, but couldn’t hook up with any of his receivers at a consistent rate. The running game discovered some of its old success resulting in a number of sustained drives. However, Missouri wouldn’t get on the board until early in the second quarter when Tucker McCann banked a field goal in off the left upright to tie the game at three.
On the ensuing drive, Florida would do just enough to regain its lead after Evan McPherson kicked his second field goal today to give Florida a 6-3 lead. Needing a response before the half, the offense managed only 10 yards in three drives, heading into the half down by a field goal.
For Missouri fans, this is where the script started to feel all too familiar.
Missouri looked to have some momentum on the opening drive of the half when Kelly Bryant was hit late by a Florida defender. However, Albert Okwuegbunam joined the scrum and received his own unsportsmanlike conduct foul, offsetting the penalty. Missouri would punt after notching two yards in three plays. On the third play of the next drive, the Gators scored the first touchdown of the game when Trask hit senior Josh Hammond on a 34-yard sideline bomb.
Over the past month, Missouri’s defense has often held games together hoping the offense would eventually find its old form. After two more three-and-outs, the Tigers made it a one-possession game once again when Tucker McCann hit his second field goal of the game.
On the next drive, though, the wheels would come off.
In the midst of a long Florida drive, Kyle Trask threw a jump ball to tight end Kyle Pitts on the right sideline. Though the catch was ruled complete, Khalil Oliver came up with the ball signaling that Missouri would get a chance to tie the game. After a long replay, however, the referees determined that Pitts ultimately made the catch, despite not going to the ground with the football. On the next play, cornerback Christian Holmes left with an injury. Two plays later, Kyle Trask hit Lamical Perine in the back corner of the end zone to make it a 20-6 game.
From there, the Tigers would gain 68 yards on 27 plays across the final quarter. Florida tacked on another field goal at the beginning of the fourth quarter to cement the final score of 23-6. Despite a sustained final drive, Kelly Bryant would throw his sixth interception of the year to end Missouri’s last chance at their first touchdown in 10 quarters.
Missouri falls to 5-5 on the year and will face the Tennessee Volunteers at Faurot Field next week.