Mizzou survived a ferocious fourth quarter rally from Arizona State on Saturday night in a 24-20 win.
The big news before the game was the injury to Missouri quarterback James Franklin. Redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser took over under the helm.
Berkstresser started well, leading the Tigers to ten first quarter points. Andrew Baggett hit a 46-yard field goal on an opening drive that was aided by a long T.J. Moe kick return and a roughing the passer penalty. Mizzou’s special teams stepped up, as Andrew Wilson forced a fumble on a punt return and Kip Edwards recovered the ball at Arizona State’s 18. Four plays later, Berkstresser found the end zone on a 6-yard run.
Edwards was back in the action the next defensive drive. He intercepted a Taylor Kelly pass, but the Tigers couldn’t turn the turnover into points. Baggett missed a 45-yard field goal attempt, his first of three misses on the day.
The Tigers and Sun Devils traded touchdowns in the second quarter. Running back Kendial Lawrence scored on a 7-yard touchdown. The drive was set up by some “trickeration” on special teams. Marcus Murphy fielded a punt and tossed the ball to E.J. Gaines on a reverse and he took the ball all the way to the Sun Devils 18-yard line. Arizona State cut the lead before halftime as Kelly hit D.J. Foster for a 33-yard touchdown.
The Tigers scored another touchdown on a short drive after a botched snap by the Arizona State punter. It took Mizzou’s offense six plays and 33 yards to make it a three possession game.
But the Sun Devils started catching passes in the fourth quarter and the crowd at Faurot Field was stunned. The Tigers’ defense had no answer for Kelly and running back Marion Grice, who rushed for two fourth quarter touchdowns. The Tigers’ offense couldn’t stay on the field and the defense was fatigued.
Thankfully, the Tigers’ defense stepped up when they were called upon. The Sun Devils were shut down three times at the doorstep after they had 2nd and goal from the Tigers 1-yard line. ASU got the ball back with just over a minute left from the Tigers 21-yard line, but Kelly took a shot to the end zone on third down and was picked off by Mizzou safety Kenronte Walker.
The Tigers now take their 2-1 overall record to South Carolina for their first SEC away game. The big talking point all week will be the health of James Franklin. Berkstresser managed the game well, but the Tigers need Franklin to play on the road next week against a top ten team.