Missouri sophomore quarterback Drew Lock started his 10th career game Saturday and finally announced his presence on the collegiate stage with authority during a 61-21 victory against Eastern Michigan at Memorial Stadium.
Lock, a four-star prospect from Lee’s Summit High, always brimmed with potential, but his record-setting performance against the Eagles was all about production.
He completed a career-high 24 of 37 passes for 450 yards, another career-high and the third-most in program history behind only Jeff Handy (480 yards at Oklahoma State in 1992) and Blaine Gabbert (468 yards vs. Baylor in 2009).
“Drew’s been working since January and gotten so much better,” said sophomore Kendall Blanton — a Blue Springs South graduate who caught four passes for 31 yards, both career-highs. “I didn’t realize he was having a record night, because we were focused on Eastern Michigan in the moment. But Drew’s great and, obviously, his ceiling is high. It’s a great win for Drew, but he’s going to have even better games than this in the future.”
Lock also matched a single-game school record with five touchdowns — impressively, to five different receivers, a feat Chase Daniel achieved four times and Maty Mauk managed twice.
“It’s awesome for him,” said senior linebacker Michael Scherer, who finished with six tackles. “He deserves it. He works very hard and he’s very talented. I expect more than that out of him next time.”
Lock said the performance felt like a long time coming and also told reporters after the game he’d be treating the offensive line to a meal Sunday night at Cheddar’s for keeping him upright and giving him space and time consistently to step into throws.
“He has the skillset to be a really great player …,” first-year MU coach Barry Odom said. “I think Drew’s going to continue to get better. He’s still got a lot of room to grow, but it was exciting offensively to see those guys have success.”
By halftime, Lock already had set new career highs with 289 yards passing and three touchdowns, but he wasn’t satisfied — not in Odom’s inaugural home game.
“We had 33 at half and I went in and told the guys that’s not enough for us if we want to be the big-power offense that we want to be and what people recognize us as,” Lock said. “I said, ‘Let’s go out and put 60 on them, because that’s the respect we need and that’s respect we’re going to get.’”
On the game’s opening series, Lock opened the game with a 36-yard touchdown to sophomore Emanuel Hall, who finished with three catches for 90 yards. It was Hall’s first career touchdown and the longest reception of his career.
The offense stubbed its toe for a while from there with two punts sandwiched around a Lock fumble at the goal line.
Senior cornerback Aarion Penton returned his second interception of the season 63 yards to the Eastern Michigan 7, but the Mizzou offense squandered a gift from the defense for the second straight week.
Unlike the loss at West Virginia, which featured freshman Tucker McCann’s missed 24-yard field goal after a key turnover by the defense deep in Mountaineers territory, the Tigers didn’t waste any more chances.
During the final 4:25 of the first half, Missouri scored 19 points, turning a 14-7 game into a rout.
It started with a 12-play, 86-yard drive that featured junior running back Ish Witter, who had seven carries for 36 yards and capped the march with a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
Lock took over from there.
After the defense forced a three-and-out, Lock threw a bubble screen to redshirt freshman Johnathon Johnson, who maneuvered off blocks by sophomore tight end Kendall Blanton and junior wide receiver J’Mon Moore before turning on the jets for an 87-yard touchdown that had the crowd of 51,192 rocking, even though it was the smallest attendance for a home opener since 2006.
It was the longest touchdown from scrimmage for Missouri since L’Damian Washington’s 96-yard catch and run from Mauk against South Carolina in October 2013.
Johnson, who closed the first quarter with a 54-yard punt return touchdown after initially muffing the catch, finished with a team-high five catches for 115 yards. He’s the first Football Bowl Subdivision player with a punt-return score and receiving touchdown in a 100-yard game since 2001, according to sports-reference.com.
Another Eagles three-and-out gave Lock and company one more crack and the Tigers cashed in again.
Lock threw a 19-yard dart for a touchdown to junior tight end Jason Reese two plays after kicking off the drive with a 68-yard strike to sophomore Ray Wingo, who caught a 52-yard touchdown from Lock in the third quarter and finished with a game-high 125 yards.
It’s the second straight week two Missouri receivers posted 100-yard games, something that hadn’t happened since 2013.
Lock matched the program record with his fifth touchdown midway through the third quarter a 13-yard hookup with Blanton.
“I’ve been asked about the record thing and being 30 yards (away), but I think the coolest thing today was throwing to those guys who had never caught the ball in the end zone,” said Lock, whose five strikes all went to first-time touchdown-scorers. “Seeing their faces after they caught the touchdowns was probably the coolest thing. It was super cool to see all those guys out there succeeding.”
The Tigers’ 647 yards on offense were the most since totaling 694 yards against Murray State in the 2013 season-opener and the 61 points, including a pair of missed extra-points, was the high-water mark since the 2012 season-opener against Southeastern Louisiana.
“It felt great, but what felt better was seeing the offense coming together,” Blanton said. “Drew played a great game, the offensive line blocked a great game and it felt good to finally put up a few points.”
Senior defensive tackles Josh Augusta, who converted a fourth-down with a 2-yard run, served as a decoy on freshman Damarea Crockett’s 26-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, blocking an Eastern Michigan defensive back with each arm to spring the scoring run.
Finally, junior linebacker Joey Burkett put on the finishing touch with an interception for a touchdown in the closing minutes.
Missouri 61, Eastern Michigan 21
MIZ: E.Hall 36 pass from Lock (McCann kick), 13:36.
MIZ: Jo.Johnson 54 punt return (McCann kick), :13.
EMU: Eriksen 1 run (Fricano kick), 11:54.
MIZ: Witter 1 run (kick failed), 04:28.
MIZ: Jo.Johnson 87 pass from Lock (kick failed), 02:41.
MIZ: Reese 19 pass from Lock (McCann kick), :58.
EMU: Se.Bailey 5 pass from T.Porter (Fricano kick), 10:37.
MIZ: Wingo 52 pass from Lock (McCann kick), 09:02.
MIZ: Blanton 13 pass from Lock (McCann kick), 06:13.
EMU: T.Porter 4 run (Fricano kick), 02:27.
MIZ: Crockett 26 run (McCann kick), 10:30.
MIZ: Burkett 1 interception return (McCann kick), 02:55.
Time of Possession
RUSHING: E. Michigan, Eriksen 24-85, T.Porter 13-46, Vann 1-10, Turner 3-8, Banham 4-5, (Team) 2-(minus 18). Missouri, Crockett 12-68, Witter 13-61, Strong 5-30, Mason 1-9, A.Ross 2-5, Augusta 1-2, Lock 2-1, Zanders 2-(minus 6).
PASSING: E. Michigan, T.Porter 23-45-2-296. Missouri, Lock 24-38-0-450, Zanders 3-3-0-27.
RECEIVING: E. Michigan, Se.Bailey 7-57, Niupalau 3-58, Holder 3-24, Eriksen 2-32, Browning 2-26, Daugherty 2-23, Buschman 1-30, A.Porter 1-28, Sexton 1-13, Fuller 1-5. Missouri, Jo.Johnson 5-115, Mason 5-51, Blanton 4-31, Wingo 3-125, E.Hall 3-90, Reese 2-27, J’.Moore 2-20, Crockett 1-9, Dilosa 1-5, Witter 1-4.
MISSED FIELD GOALS: E. Michigan, Fricano 42.