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Missed opportunities cost Mizzou SEC-opening victory

Harrison Mevis missed a game-winning field goal and Nathaniel Peat fumbled his own game-winning attempt in a 17-14 loss for the Tigers.

Syndication: Columbia Daily Tribune Jake Crandall/USA TODAY NETWORK / USA TODAY NETWORK

Mizzou was inches from victory...twice.

Decorated Mizzou All-American kicker Harrison Mevis missed a game-winning 26-yard field goal at the end of the fourth quarter and running back Nathaniel Peat fumbled the would be game-winning touchdown run into the end zone for a touchback to clinch the loss.

The Tigers visited Jorden-Hare Stadium for the first time in program history to face the Tank Bigsby-led Auburn Tigers, and the result will be one Tiger fans remember. Let’s take a look at how they got to that disappointing 17-14 loss.

Mizzou received the opening kickoff, but fell victim to a common theme—a slow start. The Tigers went three-and-out on their initial drive, capped with a 12-yard sack by Colby Wooden. Despite adding Xavier Delgado and swapping Mitchell Walters in for Connor Wood at the right guard position, Mizzou’s offensive line continued its season-long struggles.

Auburn began its first drive at its own 41-yard line after a Jack Stonehouse punt, and went straight to work. Led by backup quarterback Robby Ashford, who started in place of an injured TJ Finley, the Tigers marched down the field for the game’s first score.

The 14-play drive consisted of only runs, culminating with an 11-yard touchdown run by Ashford, the first rushing touchdown of the redshirt freshman’s career. Bigsby, who only had nine rushing attempts last week, racked up seven carries for 30 yards on the first drive alone.

Mizzou began the drive at its own 25-yard line and recorded only one play from scrimmage before Brady Cook threw his fourth interception of the season on a pass that deflected off of Luther Burden III’s hands and into the awaiting grasp of Derick Hall.

Auburn capitalized on the prime field position, needing only five plays to double its lead to 14-0. Ashford connected on its first two pass attempts of the afternoon and Bigsby added seven yards on the ground, including a three-yard touchdown rush.

Needing a score, Mizzou showed signs of progress with 30 yards in its first four plays. However, after working themselves to midfield, the Tigers stalled and punted the ball back to Auburn.

After allowing back-to-back touchdown drives, the Mizzou defense stepped up on the ensuing drive, forcing a three-and-out. The defense fought through Auburn’s offensive line to force a two-yard loss on a Jarquez Hunter rush while Ty’Ron Hopper hurried Ashford into an incompletion as well.

With the ball back in its possession, Mizzou built off its success on the previous drive, beginning with a 17-yard competition to Mookie Cooper. Nathaniel Peat added 19 rushing yards and Kibet Chepyator recorded his first career collegiate reception on a 17-yard gain, setting the Tigers up at Auburn's 14-yard line. Schrader capped the drive with back-to-back rushes, including a nine-yard touchdown carry to cut the lead in half at 14-7.

Following the scoring drive, Mizzou’s defense carried the momentum onto their side. After allowing a fourth down conversion, the Tigers recorded two sacks for 18 yards, including a 15-yard sack by Isaiah McGuire to force a punt.

Cook marched Mizzou down the field on the ensuing possession, finding Dominic Lovett for a 40-yard gain before Cook capped the 11-play, 79-yard drive with a one-yard quarterback draw to knot the game up at 14 apiece with 30 seconds remaining in the half.

Ashford worked Auburn into field goal range, but Anders Carlson missed his first attempt, a 50-yarder. However, an offsides call against McGuire gave Carlson another attempt from the 45-yard-line. Despite the second opportunity, Carlson missed it as well to leave it tied at half.

The first half featured a bounce-back effort from Mizzou’s defense, which recorded six tackles for loss, two sacks and one forced fumble. After a slow start, the Tigers’ offense finished the half with 173 total yards to Auburn’s 122 and converted on 50% of its third down chances.

For each teams’ first two drives of the second half, the results looked eerily similar. Auburn began with the ball and totaled seven yards while Mizzou nearly matched the effort with eight yards of its own before punting.

After an injury to Ashford, Auburn turned to true freshman quarterback Holden Geriner, who lost 16 yards before the Tigers punted. Mizzou followed with a similar effort, gaining 14 yards before stalling and punting. With little going right for the offenses, Auburn and Mizzou traded punts once again to end the third quarter, including a booming 68-yard punt by Stonehouse.

Auburn’s first drive of the fourth quarter featured the return of Ashford, but punting displays continued on both sides. Oscar Chapman, Auburn’s punter, posted 44, 51 and 39-yard punts while Stonehouse countered with 46, 37 and 47-yard boots to bring the game to the 3:30 mark.

After connecting on a 20-yard pass to Koy Moore, Auburn gained nine yards before facing a monumental 4th & 1. With the game on the line, Mizzou’s defense, led by Hopper, stopped Bigsby before the line of scrimmage to hand Mizzou the ball with less than two minutes remaining.

Cook began the drive with a 13-yard rush and pushed the ball downfield before facing a 2nd & 12 at the Auburn 42-yard-line. With all the eyes on Mizzou’s run game, Cook found Lovett down the sideline for a 39-yard competition. The Tigers milked the clock down to three seconds, giving the mostly sure-footed Mevis a 26-yard field goal opportunity at the end of the game, but the trusted veteran surprisingly missed wide-right to send the game into overtime.

In overtime, Auburn failed to gain yardage on its opening drive, but Carlson knocked in the go-ahead field goal after his first attempt, which missed wide left, was re-tried following another offside penalty.

Needing at least a field goal, Peat rushed for five yards before breaking off for what looked to be a game-winning touchdown on the following play, but he fumbled the ball within the one-yard line and Auburn recovered in the end zone to seal Missouri’s fate, 17-14.

On the day, Cook threw for 179 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. On the ground, Peat finished with 110 yards on 20 carries, while running back Cody Schrader added 29 yards on seven attempts. The defense held Auburn to 217 yards, forced one interception and notched 12 tackles for loss.

The heart-wrenching defeat marks yet another road loss for Drinkwitz, who falls to 2-9 in true road games during his tenure. Mizzou drops to 2-2 on the season with a challenging game against No. 1 Georgia awaiting at 6:30 p.m. Saturday on the SEC Network.