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The Goal - See 'em all!
Lobos catch Tigers at the Tail, 45-35
Columbia, Mo.- The Lobos of New Mexico scored the final 10 points of the fourth quarter in the last 4:26 to break a 35-35 tie to go on to defeat the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field, 45-35, in a game between two teams vying for their respective conference titles this year. Tiger QB Brad Smith was an offensive force to be reckoned with, but three turnovers by the Tigers (1-1), two in key situations, made the difference in the final outcome of the game. Smith was a one man show throwing for 248 yards and 1 TD to nine different receivers while rushing for 165 yards and 3 TDs. However, one of his two interceptions and a questionable fumble resulted in scores for the visitors from New Mexico (2-0), in a game in which the margin was never more than 8 points until 2:09 remained in the game. Lobos’ QB Kole McKamey, WR Hank Baskett, and RB DonTrell Moore took advantage of an inexperienced Tiger defense which forced no Lobo turnovers. The Mizzou loss overshadowed Smith’s record breaking day as he set both the career passing yardage mark and the career yardage rushing mark for the Tigers. For CollegeFootballFan.com, it was a great, seesaw battle filled with great plays and excitement into the waning minutes of the game. Our first trip to Missouri was worthwhile to add these two teams as our 95th and 96th toward The Goal! We hope to make Columbia, MO a venue for other games in the future to get to “see ‘em all!”
New Mexico struck first on its initial drive as McKamey (14 for 25, 188 yards, 3 TD passes) connected with TE John Mulchrone in the end zone for six points and his only catch of the day. PK Kenny Byrd put up the first of his six PATs to take a 7-0 lead for the Lobos. Mizzou came back on its first drive with a 25-yard FG by Adam Crosset to cut the score to 7-3. Before the quarter came to an end, DB Gabriel Fulbright would pick off the first of his two INTs against Smith to hold the Tigers at bay. The Lobos couldn’t cash in, and the Tigers started Q2 from their own 22.
The Tigers drove to set up Crosset for his second FG, this time from 45 yards to cut the Lobo lead to one, 7-6, early in Q2. Crosset tied his own personal best from that distance. UNM started from their own 22 with some key runs by Moore with the heavy brace on his left knee. Despite a slight limp, he would finish the day with 94 yards, a significant improvement over the 39 the week before against UNLV. According to reports in The Columbia Daily Tribune on Sunday, the performance of the second, active career-leading rusher in the NCAA this year has given his team some optimism for the balance of the season. Guest game Analyst (GGA), tailgate host and Mizzou fan, Tom Richardson (Portland University), noted the ten yard cushions the Tiger CBs were giving the Lobos, and sure enough on a subsequent play, UNM took advantage of them on an end around to pick up big yardage on a 3rd and long. The drive ended with a 25-yard scoring strike from McKamey to 6’4” Hank Baskett in the end zone for an 8-point, 14-6 lead. Tom noted that the defensive line for the Tigers seemed invisible as they couldn’t stop the run nor pressure the QB at this point in the game. The punting game hurt the Tigers this day also, as P Tyler Gaus shanked his first of two on the day for a 7-yard punt. The Lobos didn’t cash in, and punted back putting the Tigers at their own 20. Smith seemed to take over at this point. He led his team down the length of the field. He ran to the left from the two out of shotgun, which the Tigers run on every play, with: 31 remaining in the half to cut the Lobo lead to two digits. With three wide-outs split far to each side, Smith then ran it up the gut for the two-point conversion and the tie. The score was knotted at the half 14-14.
The Missouri half-time show was a tribute to the fourth anniversary of 9/11, which included the induction of about 20 young kids into the U.S. Air Force. The game was preceded by an impressive Stealth flyover after the National Anthem. Another GGA, Steve, remarked that "it’s a bad day in Iraq if you see one of those coming at you!" With astronomical gas prices, I wonder how much it costs now to fill one of those babies up.
Missouri started the second half in good position at its own 40, but Smith made one of two big blunders this day when he fumbled going down under pressure, and Lobo DE Evroy Thompson picked up the ball and rambled down the right side for a 28-yard TD return. The play was reviewed since it could have been argued that Smith’s arm seemed to be moving forward for an incomplete pass. Other GGAs pointed out that at best it could have been called intentional grounding and a loss of down, but the play stood. New Mexico led again, 21-14. Missouri retaliated with a drive on its next series. Smith, who is an elusive runner and tough to bring down, seemed ready to be brought down with two tacklers converging on him in the backfield, but he broke free and went 31 yards to tie the score once again, 21-21. The Tiger defense held New Mexico to punt on its next possession. Mizzou started from its own 33 and seemed to stall on the UNM 15 on third and ten, but Smith demonstrated his elusiveness once again as he turned a busted play into a 15-yard TD jaunt to claim the lead for the Tigers, 28-21. Missouri’s defense seemed to be catching on as it held UNM once again to force a punt. The Mizzou offense also stalled though, and Gaus’s second punt was also shanked to put New Mexico at its own 34 instead of deeper field position. At the Mizzou 41, Moore took the hand-off and ran right, dropped back , and hurled a long pass to an open Baskett for his second TD of the day to tie the score at 28-28 to finish the scoring in an exciting third quarter of play.
To start the fourth, Mizzou got to the UNM 36 before a long pass play by Smith to TE Martin Rucker fell incomplete in the end zone on fourth down. McKamey got his team back downfield quickly as he hooked up with Baskett again on a 47-yard pass play to the Tiger seven-yard line. From there, McKamey ran the option to the right , ran right by a would-be tackler, and retook the lead for the Lobos, 35-28. A 32-yard return by Soph RB Tony Temple gave the Tigers good field position at the 39 on the subsequent kick-off, and Smith and company took advantage. With 7:58, Smith connected over the middle with FR TE Chase Coffman for a 13-yard TD pass, knotting the score once again at 35-35. McKamey, who rushed for 41 yards for the Lobos, picked up a big first down on the next drive when he scrambled for 12 yards on 3rd and eleven to his own 32 to keep the Lobo drive alive. A 22-yard pass to Baskett got the Lobos into field goal range where Byrd put it through the uprights from 40 yards away to take a 38-35 lead with 4:26 left in the game. CFF was looking for the Tigers to retaliate to tie or take the lead and expected a last minute drive by the Lobos to result in some last second excitement for win or possibly an overtime game! The Tigers took over from their own 35 when an errant kick went out of bounds. To our chagrin, however, Smith’s next pass was intercepted down the right sideline by Fulbright for his second of the night. With 3:15 left, the Lobos were on the Mizzou 30-yard line. At the 2:01 mark, UNM sealed the game with a perfectly executed, nine-yard “alley oop” pass from McKamey to his tall WR Baskett, who leapt high above the defense for the final TD to complete the 45-35 score. CFF envisioned a more exciting finish, but we really enjoyed this one after the Georgia-Boise debacle the week before. For Tom and his Tiger friends, it was a dejecting loss against a good team in a game influenced by two turnovers by the most dominant offensive player in Missouri history. But, even he’ll tell you that the only numbers that really count are the two numbers on the scoreboard at the end of the game- New Mexico 45 - Missouri 35.
New Mexico returns home next to face in-state rival, New Mexico State. Mizzou has two big games coming up at Faurot in the next two weekends. A revenge match against Troy who upset them last year comes in next weekend, followed by the currently #2 ranked Texas Longhorns the week after. UT just defeated # 5 Ohio State 25-22 in a game played the same evening as this one.
Extra Points: We cancelled our plans to attend the NAIA game between Central Methodist and Missouri Valley when we got invited to a tailgate by Tom in Columbia, and also noted that there were several good, early game starts to be watched on TV ( Kansas State-Marshall, ND-Michigan and surprisingly, Tulsa-Oklahoma). We went to a great Columbia sports bar, Harpo’s, which was recommended by several Mizzou alums from work. It’s the home of the Coach Gary Pinkel’s Monday night radio show. Big screens, cold beer, nice people and good looking waitresses- what more could you ask for ( the sandwich I had was so-so)? After several hours of jumbo beers, I walked about a mile to the stadium where I had to call Tom twice to hone in on his tailgate party. Where would we be without cell phones today? Once I found them, I wanted them to blindfold me and drop me somewhere to try again! It was fun, but we all wanted to go to the game. Once at the tailgate, the food made up for what I missed at Harpo’s – good sandwiches, beans and apple cobbler! I was surprised to find out later, that the public parking where I left my car in Columbia was free. That turned out to be a pretty good deal compared to venues that now charge $10-$20!
A little history, Tom had the distinction of telling me that he attended the 1969 Orange Bowl where Mizzou lost to PSU, 10-3. I remember staying up late as a kid to watch that one the night before going back to school after the holiday break.
Missouri paid tribute to redshirt Soph LB Aaron O’Neal, who died at the end of a voluntary workout back on July 12 in Columbia. Aaron died of spinal meningitis. It was a shock to his teammates and the Missouri family. In tribute to him before the game, the offense stood on one 25-yard line and the defense on the other during a moment of silence. “25” was his number. No one else will wear that number through 2008 when he would have graduated, and his name will remain in the program and media guides through 2008 as a member of the team. On the eastern berm of the stadium, his initials and number are marked there in his memory.
New Mexico Coach Rocky Long has led his team to three straight bowl games despite his 42-45 record over eight years. He has turned them around and they look like a strong contender in this year’s MWC race. We believe is team is o the way to its fourth straight bowl bid. What is impressive to CFF is how most of his key players are home-grown New Mexicans. For such a sparsely populated state, he has recruited, developed and kept some of the best talent on his team. Reviewing the roster, it’s not surprising to see several NM high schools represented by three of four players. Few high schools around the country send more than one player on to 1A competition.
Missouri ran a no-huddle offense on every play of the game. Four UM assistants stand on the sideline in yellow shirts sending out their repertoire of signals even when nobody on the field even seems to be looking. Either one of four is sending signals to Smith who calls out the plays while the others decoy, or each is assigned to linemen, backs, receivers and the QB respectively. It should be put to music or developed into some kind of aerobics video for men. They have to move their feet more often though. One fan described them as Larry and Moe, insinuated Curly, but when you get down to it, the fourth has to be Schemp! Were Curly and Schemp ever on together?
Frosh TE Chase Coffman's dad is a former TE for the Green Bay Packers. Chase led the Tigers with 49 receiving yards and a TD in this game as he and others stepped in to play in place of injured upper classmen. He's 6'-6", 230 lbs with good speed and good hands. Look to hear more about him in the future.
The fans have a pretty good cross stadium cheer similar to PSU’s “We are…Penn State!” In Columbia, one side cheers “M-I-Z”, and the other replies “Z-O-U!” That reminds me, I went to the local Wal-mart in Springfield before heading up to Columbia to buy one of those $5 Wal-mart college baseball caps figuring they must have Missouri in stock. I found several. The nicer one with a little more color in the Tiger and yellow buttons and visor , but had “Tigers” embroidered on back. I bought the less “frilly” one with the Tiger logo and “Mizzou” on back. There are lots of Tigers, but only one “Mizzou”.
Dan Devine, Kellen Winslow, and Johnny Roland are among the names of famous, football alumni on the stadium wall. It’s funny that we think of Devine more a Notre Dame Coach and Winslow as a San Diego charger, especially after that gutsy, play-off performance in 1981.
Missouri must lead the nation in blonde cheerleaders. We have to get the picture software set up to show you!
We may consider getting back to Columbia if we need to see Kansas State or Oklahoma State for future needs. CFF really enjoyed the game atmosphere, the downtown area close by and the overall setting for a football weekend there. We’ll definitely go back to Harpo’s, too!