Missouri scored 18 consecutive points in the fourth quarter to secure a 38-21 victory over Kentucky on Saturday at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. The Tigers improved to 6-1 on the season and clinched bowl eligibility for the fourth straight year.
The Fourth Quarter Was All Missouri
MU took care of business in the fourth quarter. Eliah Drinkwitz’s team executed effectively, scoring on three possessions and forcing two defensive turnovers.
The momentum shifted in Mizzou’s favor toward the end of the third quarter as the offense marched down the field. Quarterback Brady Cook completed two consecutive passes to wide receiver Mookie Cooper and tight end Brett Norfleet, bringing them to Kentucky’s 2-yard line to close out the third quarter. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Cook rushed for a one-yard touchdown. Running back Cody Schrader followed up by finding the end zone on the two-point conversion, giving MU a 28-21 lead.
Photo Cred: News Tribune (#7 Schrader)
After a subpar punt by the Wildcats, the Tigers began their next offensive possession with excellent field position at the Kentucky 34-yard line. UK defensive back Andru Phillips was penalized for pass interference, costing them 15 yards. A few plays later, Schrader ran for a 19-yard touchdown, extending Missouri’s lead to 35-21 with 11:07 remaining in the contest.
DBs Marcus Clarke and Kris Abrams-Draine then picked off Wildcats QB Devin Leary on back-to-back defensive possessions. Clarke’s pivotal play came on MU’s 14-yard line after Kentucky had advanced downfield. Abrams-Draine recorded his fourth interception of the season by picking off Leary in Kentucky territory with 4:15 left in the game. The junior’s interception set up a 29-yard field goal from Harrison Mevis.
The Tigers Also Came Alive in the Second Quarter
After a sluggish start, Mizzou began to find a rhythm, scoring 17 unanswered points in the second quarter. MU’s offense amassed 163 yards in the second quarter while giving up only 17 yards on defense.
One play would alter the course of the game. Missouri scored off a fake punt, with punter Luke Bauer completing a 39-yard touchdown pass to freshman WR Marquis Johnson to put the Tigers on the scoreboard. With 15 seconds remaining in the first half, Cook connected with WR Theo Wease Jr. for an 18-yard touchdown, giving the Tigers a 17-14 lead heading into halftime.
Photo Cred: Yahoo News (#93 Bauer)
Missouri dominated all aspects of the game in the second quarter. They accumulated 46 rushing yards and limited the talented Wildcats’ ground attack to just 13 yards. Cook, who finished with 167 yards and a touchdown, recorded 78 passing yards. Blake Baker’s defense allowed only four passing yards throughout the quarter.
MU had multiple players step up in their road victory over UK on Saturday. Several players made significant plays down the stretch when the team needed them the most.
Wease led the way for Missouri’s receivers with 58 yards and a touchdown. Norfleet recorded a career-high four receptions on Saturday, matching his season-high receiving yards with 40. The true freshman came up with some key plays, including a 22-yard reception toward the end of the third quarter. Cooper had two receptions for 29 yards.
Photo Cred: Yahoo Sports
Kirby Moore’s offense also found success in the run game. Schrader was the leading rusher for the Tigers, gaining 71 yards and a touchdown. In addition to his touchdown, he ran for 12 yards up the middle in the fourth quarter. Cook also tallied 40 rushing yards.
MU’s defense delivered a solid performance on Saturday after a shaky start. Leary was sacked four times during the matchup. Defensive lineman Darius Robinson had two sacks, while DLs Johnny Walker Jr. and Realus George Jr. each had one sack. DB Joseph Charleston played a crucial role for Missouri with five solo tackles and a forced fumble.
Missouri will host South Carolina for the Mayor’s Cup next Saturday at 2:30 P.M. at Faurot Field, with the game broadcast on SEC Network.