Tigers come up short against Longhorns

Tigers come up short against Longhorns

Missouri dropped its first game in conference play at No. 9 Texas on Saturday. The Tigers knocked Texas QB Vince Young out of the game in the second quarter, but could not get a late touchdown and were unable to get their first win in Austin since 1896.

The game came down to the final drive, which many connected to the Missouri program would have been happy with before the game. The Tigers knocked QB Vince Young out of the game, another good sign at the time.

It was not enough. Missouri fell to No. 9 Texas 28-20 on Saturday, slipping to 4-2 and 2-1 in Big 12 play.

Missouri had the ball at its own 34 with 3:10 left in the game, but was unable to reach Texas territory before turning the ball over on downs. Junior QB Brad Smith, who took several hard hits on the afternoon, could not complete an important pass late and was unable to convert on fourth-and-17, handing the Longhorns the contest.

Texas shot to a 14-0 lead early and looked ready to blow Missouri out, but the Tigers fought back with two second-quarter touchdowns. Texas regained the lead at 21-14 with a touchdown late in the second quarter.

After the defenses dominated the third quarter, Texas TB Cedric Benson keyed a drive that gave the Horns some breathing room. Benson carried the ball on eight of the drive's 11 carries, including the final six. He scored from 14 yards out to give Texas a 28-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Missouri answered back with an impressive 16-play drive, converting twice on fourth down, including the final play, when Smith scored on a sweep to cut the lead to 28-20. Smith, the holder on placekicks, fumbled the snap on the extra point, forcing junior K Joe Tantarelli to slow down his approach and come up short on his kick, maintaining Texas' eight-point lead.

The Missouri defense forced a three-and-out, but the Tigers could not capitalize on offense.

Benson finished with 150 yards on 28 carries, but was ineffective for large portions of the game. The Missouri defense was strong most of the game, taking the ball away three times forcing two other fumbles. Texas scored 14 points off Missouri turnovers, more than enough to manage the win.

In the first quarter, Texas forced a Missouri turnover that immediately paid off. With the Tigers two yards from their own end zone, Smith telegraphed a pass to junior WR Sean Coffey, allowing DE Brian Robison to leap over a blocker and intercept the pass. Robison took two steps forward to give Texas a 7-0 lead with 6:46 left in the first quarter.

Texas needed a trick play and a rare mistake by a Tiger senior to score later in the first. WR Ramonce Taylor found QB Vince Young on a reverse pass, racking up 48 yards and pushing down to the Missouri 18. On the next play (after a five-yard penalty for an illegal shift), Young wriggled out of an unusually poor tackle attempt by senior LB James Kinney, scrambled to the sideline and scored from 23 yards to give Texas a 14-0 lead with 23 seconds left in the quarter.

Missouri answered with a long drive keyed by the legs of Smith and freshman TB Marcus Woods. Smith had the drive's biggest play, a 26-yard run to the left side. Six plays later, Smith found Coffey in the front corner of the end zone for a four-yard score on third down, cutting the lead in half with 7:06 left in the half.

After an interception by senior CB Shirdonya Mitchell, the Tigers tied the game immediately, using a 33-yard run almost completely untouched to the left side to bring both teams to 14 with 5:27 left.

Young was injured in the process of throwing his second interception, this one grabbed by senior S Nino Williams and returned 23 yards to the Texas 32. He took a high, late hit from Missouri sophomore LB David Richard and remained on his chest briefly after. He was on the sideline, with his helmet on, in the second half, but did not play. Chance Mock replaced Young and struggled, but Benson was more than enough to secure the win.

The Tigers could not capitalize on Williams' pick. Smith threw his second interception, this one to CB Aaron Ross, who sprinted 64 yards to the Missouri 12. Two plays later, Benson scored from 13 yards to give Texas the lead again in the waning seconds of the first half.

Smith left the game briefly early in the second half after he took a hard, high hit while diving to the ground after scrambling. His neck jolted sharply on the play and appeared to be in serious pain when he left the game. Sophomore Brandon Coleman replaced him for one play before Smith returned on Missouri's next possession.

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