MISSOURI NOTEBOOK

Freshman Aarion Penton fills E.J. Gaines’ shoes well

Updated: 2013-10-20T05:26:37Z

By TOD PALMER

The Kansas City Star

— Senior cornerback E.J. Gaines sat out Saturday because of a strained right quad. He had been questionable all week, but wound up joining quarterback James Franklin (sprained shoulder) on the sideline for Missouri’s 36-17 victory.

Gaines’ replacement for most of the game, freshman Aarion Penton, didn’t play like a newcomer to the starting lineup.

Penton picked off Florida’s Tyler Murphy on a deflection, setting up the first of Andrew Baggett’s five field goals.

“I played tough and physical and I knew my assignments, so I didn’t feel too much pressure,” Penton said. “But I’ve just got to thank E.J. for being there for me at practice, critiquing me and telling me what I could do to get better.”

For Penton, who finished with three tackles — including one for a loss — with a pass breakup, starting a Southeastern Conference game was a dream come true.

“The environment was crazy,” Penton said. “Just The Zou and a lot of gold, everybody’s on our side, you couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Washington returns just in time

Technically, senior wide receiver L’Damian Washington didn’t miss any practice, but he wasn’t a full-go either.

“I didn’t wear a red jersey all week, but I just ran all short routes, because I wanted to keep it fluid a little bit,” said Washington, who picked up a hip pointer in the win at Georgia. “I didn’t run one deep route the whole week … (and) today was really my first day full go.”

It apparently didn’t hurt his chemistry with redshirt freshman Maty Mauk, who completed three passes for a team-high 84 yards to Washington.

“I told Maty, ‘Just trust me,’ ” Washington said. “I was like, ‘Come Saturday, I’ll be ready. Just trust me.’ ”

Mauk put his faith in Washington on the very first play, a 41-yard completion that kicked off Missouri’s victory in style.

Baggett bags five field goals

Baggett tied the Missouri record with five field goals, matching Jeff Jacke’s five-kick performance on Nov. 21, 1992, in a 22-7 win against Kansas.

“Those field goals were so important, because it was slowly taking the game from a one-score game to a two-score game and kept going on and on,” MU coach Gary Pinkel said.

Baggett connected from 43, 19, 39, 33 and 28 yards. The 33-yard kick with 13:32 left in the fourth quarter was particularly crucial as it extended the Tigers’ lead to 26-17, making it a two-score game.

| Tod Palmer, tpalmer@kcstar.com

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