Rapid Reaction: Missouri stuns Florida with gutsy winning call in OT
Florida made a gutsy call for a touchdown on its drive in overtime on Saturday at Missouri.
Missouri made an even gutsier one to win the game in Columbia.
The Tigers (6-5 overall, 3-4 SEC) scored a touchdown to draw within 23-22 on their OT drive, with the SEC’s leading rusher, Tyler Badie (27 rushes, 146 yards) rushing 13 yards for the score.
But rather than kicking the PAT to go into a second OT, coach Eli Drinkwitz decided to go for 2 points to end the game right then and there. Quarterback Connor Bazelak dropped back and started falling down, but still floated a pass to tight end Daniel Parker for the conversion and a 24-23 victory over the Gators.
The Gators (5-6, 2-6) capped their overtime drive with a tricky play for a touchdown. Emory Jones handed off to Dameon Pierce, who pitched it to receiver Trent Whittemore, who threw back to Jones for the score.
Missouri became bowl eligible with the win while Florida, ranked in the preseason, must defeat rival Florida State (which is also 5-6) next week in Gainesville to qualify for the postseason.
In the fourth quarter, Missouri took over at midfield with 4:14 left after a Florida punt. A pass interference penalty on third down gave the Tigers a first down at the 30, but Harrison Mevis missed a 46-yard field goal with 1:04 left and the game went into overtime.
The Gators gained 94 of their yards on the last play of the first half (a 49-yard pass completion) and their first play of the second half (a 45-yard completion).
Florida entered the game averaging 33.5 points per game and Missouri was averaging 31.5. The Gators were 71st in the country in scoring defense (26.8) and the Tigers were 117th (35.9).
But this game didn’t go the way those numbers would have suggested it would go.
The Gators were coming off a game in which they allowed a season-worst 530 yards and the most points in school history in a half as they fell behind FCS opponent Samford 42-35 at halftime, though they rallied to win 70-52.
On the Gators’ first offensive play of the second half, Jones threw a 45-yard completion to Whittemore to the Tigers’ 5. Two plays later Pierce ran 2 yards for the game’s first touchdown, giving Florida a 13-9 lead.
The Gators threatened again later in the quarter, driving to a first down at the Missouri 30, but 3 plays netted a minus-2 yards. They lined up to go for fourth and 12 from the 32, but received a delay of game penalty and punted.
The Tigers started at their 8, but Badie, who entered the game with 1,247 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, but had been held to 38 yards on 12 carries, broke free for his biggest run of the day (28 yards).
But a grounding penalty and 2 incompletions led to a punt.
Badie started the Tigers’ next possession with runs of 17 and 19 yards to go over 100 for the game and the third quarter ended with Florida clinging to the 13-9 lead.
That drive ended with Bazelak throwing a 41-yard pass to Niko Hea for Missouri’s only touchdown as the Tigers regained the lead 16-13 with 11:53 left.
On the first play of the ensuing possession Jones threw a 26-yard completion to Malik Jones and on fourth and 2 they connected again for a 17-yard gain to the Tigers’ 24.
On third and 1, Pearce lost a yard and Chris Howard kicked a 33-yard field goal to tie the score with 8:30 left.
The Gators drove to the Tigers 23 on the game’s first possession before stalling and Howard kicked a 42-yard field.
Missouri took over at the Florida 18 after an 11-yard punt, but couldn’t advance the ball and Mevis kicked a 39-yard field goal to tie the score at 3 at the end of the first quarter.
Things didn’t change much in the second quarter.
Howard kicked a 26-yard field goal to put the Gators back on top before Mevis’ 46-yard field goal tied the score.
Bazelak threw a 50-yard pass to Tauskie Dove, the biggest gainer of the first half, to set up Mevis’ 31-yard field goal that gave the Tigers a 9-6 halftime lead.
Both kickers were perfect and both defenses played well.
Florida had 188 total yards, 127 passing and 61 rushing. Missouri had 118 total yards, 107 passing and 11 rushing.
The Gators’ biggest offensive play of the half came on the final play when Jones tossed a short pass to Jacob Copeland, who turned it into a 49-yard gain at time expired before he stepped out of bounds at the Tigers’ 9.