Defensive ends aren’t supposed to run like the wind, but Missouri junior Markus Golden apparently didn’t get the memo.
Left unblocked during the opening minutes of the third quarter Saturday in a 38-23 victory against Toledo at Memorial Stadium, Golden intercepted quarterback Terrance Owens in the backfield and then blitzed 70 yards down the Tigers’ sideline for a touchdown.
“When I caught it — you know we do a lot of running up here anyway — so it was just regular,” Golden said. “It was just, ‘Run, go get the touchdown.’”
Of course, the way Golden ran made the play extra special. Most defensive ends rumble down the sideline — a euphemism for “ran hard, but ran slow.”
Not Golden, a St. Louis native who played one season at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College before joining the Tigers. He took off like a cannon shot.
When most defensive ends would be getting gassed or chased down from behind by a speedy skill-position player, Golden was still pulling away from the pack on a touchdown jaunt that helped him earn Southeastern Conference defensive lineman of the week honors Monday.
“I played running back in high school,” said Golden, who is listed at 6 feet 3 and 260 pounds. “I was a 2,000-yard back at Affton High, so running ain’t nothing.”
According to his Missouri bio, Golden set a school record as a high school senior, rushing for 2,264 yards and 30 touchdowns. He also made 108 tackles with 10 sacks.
Golden originally joined Missouri as a linebacker, seeing in action in all 12 games last season primarily on special teams, before converting to defensive end during the spring. He is listed third on the Tigers’ depth chart at defensive end behind junior Kony Ealy and senior Brayden Burnett.
Of course, nobody made a bigger play for the defense than Golden as Missouri improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2010.
“I’ve been telling people that it’s nothing surprising to me,” Ealy said. “He does the same thing in practice. He’s a tremendous athlete — athletic and he’s fast, as you saw. Things come to him second nature. He got his chance, and he got there and he proved it.”
Only four plays earlier, Missouri had lost starting linebacker Andrew Wilson for the game for targeting and Toledo was on the move, marching to the Tigers’ 22 before Golden snuffed out the Rockets’ promising start to the third quarter.
“It felt good just to do it for the team and everybody that was here, the fans,” Golden said. “It felt good. It really did. I know my mother was in the crowd with my family, so it felt good to do it for the team, my family and all the fans.”
Golden was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after powering the ball to the ground in the end zone and pointing to the crowd, but it still stood as a critical play for the Tigers, who started the season 2-0 for the first time since 2010.
“I’m pretty stunned, but I take full blame for it,” Golden said when asked about the penalty. “Now I know, next time I score, just get off the field and celebrate with my teammates.”
With those wheels, he may not have to wait long for the next time either.