COLUMBIA — 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 Missouris 36-17 victory.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Gaines replacement for most of the game, freshman Aarion Penton, didnt play like a newcomer to the starting lineup.
Penton picked off Floridas Tyler Murphy on a deflection, setting up the first of Andrew Baggetts five field goals.
I played tough and physical and I knew my assignments, so I didnt feel too much pressure, Penton said. But Ive 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, everybodys on our side, you couldnt ask for anything better.
Washington returns just in time
Technically, senior wide receiver LDamian Washington didnt miss any practice, but he wasnt a full-go either.
I didnt 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 didnt run one deep route the whole week (and) today was really my first day full go.
It apparently didnt 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, Ill be ready. Just trust me.
Mauk put his faith in Washington on the very first play, a 41-yard completion that kicked off Missouris victory in style.
Baggett bags five field goals
Baggett tied the Missouri record with five field goals, matching Jeff Jackes 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, email@example.com