There’s no way around the fact that Missouri’s loss Saturday against Georgia was a gut-punch.
It doesn’t matter that the Bulldogs came to Memorial Stadium ranked 16th in the country or that the Tigers were a touchdown underdog.
For only the 14th time in program history, an opponent snatched the lead — and victory — away from Mizzou with the game’s last score inside the final 90 seconds, according to research by MU historian Tom Orf.
“There was frustration, there was anger (and) there was sadness,” first-year Tigers coach Barry Odom said of the postgame locker room. “There were all the things that go along with pouring your soul into something and coming away on the wrong end of things. That hurts; that’s OK. We are not in it to participate. We’re in it to win.”
Georgia won 28-27 on wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie’s 20-yard, fourth-down TD reception and William Ham’s subsequent extra point with 1:29 remaining.
“Losing (stinks), and losing like that (stinks) even more,” senior linebacker Michael Scherer said. “I fell asleep at like 6 a.m. on Sunday morning then woke up at like 8 (a.m.). Losing just (stinks).”
Scherer’s restlessness was shared by other teammates as well.
“It was a long, sleepless night for me just knowing that we had Georgia right in the palm of our hand and let it slip right through,” said senior defensive tackle Rickey Hatley, who didn’t fall asleep until 5 a.m. “ … I was wide-awake — just trying to watch TV, tossing and turning and thinking about ‘What could I have done even more to help us succeed at the end?’ ”
Junior wide receiver J’Mon Moore, who was not made available Monday to speak with reporters, called it the toughest loss of his career after the game.
Senior cornerback Aarion Penton couldn’t help but agree.
“Since I’ve been here, I don’t think I’ve taken a loss like that at all,” he said. “It hurts a lot. As bad as I want to win and win every rep, every play, coming down to the last play of me giving up a touchdown, it hurts a lot. I’m going to keep that in the back of my head and just move forward and keep grinding and perfect my craft.”
It’s the kind of loss Penton won’t get over “for a long time.”
Again, he’s not alone. Scherer said there are losses from three years ago that still fester, but sophomore quarterback Drew Lock takes a different approach.
“I’m definitely over it,” said Lock, who leads the Southeastern Conference with 1,106 yards passing this season. “I’m gonna have to be over it and focus on being 1-0 this week. That’s what we’ve already started talking about and that’s our main focus.”
Missouri, 1-2, shouldn’t have much trouble with Delaware State, 0-2, a Football Championship Subdivision squad coming off a bye and with losses to Delaware and Monmouth on the season ledger.
Still, Odom is guarding against a hangover effect, talking with the Tigers about it before Sunday’s practice, and expects a strong effort this week in practice and at 3 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
“Comparing last year to this year, coming in here after a game like that, there’s a lot more confidence in this building in what this team can achieve than what there’s been in the past after a loss,” Scherer said.
Odom, too, is confident Mizzou can and will be “a better program” with “a little more toughness” after the Georgia loss.
“Trying times do that,” he said. “ … I hate losing more than I like winning. That’s the way I was brought up. … I celebrate wins like nobody’s business, and I live in misery with losses. That’s the way that I have to function. That’s me.”
Tigers’ history of heartbreak
According to Mizzou historian Tom Orf, Missouri’s loss Saturday against Georgia was the 14th in program history when the opposing team scored the game’s final points to take a lead — and win in regulation — during the final 90 seconds. There are other games, of course, like 2013 against South Carolina, where Mizzou blew a late lead and lost in overtime, but such games aren’t included in this list. For what it’s worth, excluding the bowl-game losses and 1957 game against Kansas, which was a season-finale, the Tigers are 5-5 the week after these losses.
Barnes 14 field goal
Kelleher 4 run
Young 14 pass from Stinnett
Elder 10 pass from Doemer
Jones 25 pass from Schnell
No. 12 Colorado
C. Johnson 1 run
at Iowa State
Shudak 36 field goal
Shipley 10 pass from Clay
Jones 1 run
vs. Oregon State**
Newton 14 pass from Moore (Bernard run)
Meier 26 pass from Reesing
Lemon 17 pass from Nassib
Roberts 3 run
No. 16 Georgia
McKenzie 20 pass from Eason
* 1983 Holiday Bowl
**2006 Sun Bowl