As dominant as the Missouri offense was in churning out 79 points and 698 yards against Delaware State on Saturday, Missouri’s defense was every bit as good.
The Tigers recorded the program’s first shutout in more than five years since a 69-0 win Sept. 17, 2011, against Western Illinois.
That’s also the last time Mizzou allowed fewer than Saturday’s 140 total yards, giving up only 44 against WIU.
“You always want a shutout … ,” said junior defensive end Jordan Harold, who recorded his first career sack. “You want the zero up there throughout the entire game, always.”
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The Tigers’ defense only allowed seven total yards in the second half, including minus-3 yards rushing on seven carries, and forced four turnovers, including senior linebacker Michael Scherer’s first career interception.
Scherer’s interception prompted a hug with defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross.
“That was awesome,” Scherer said. “First one ever. I got a lot in high school, but here — what counts now — it was the first one ever.”
He said he hugged defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross after the interception.
“Since the day he got here, he’s been telling me, ‘I’m going to get you a pick,’ ” Scherer said. “… We finally got it, but I’m going to get some more. We’re not done.”
Sophomore linebacker Brandon Lee, who finished with a team-high five tackles, added a forced fumble and fumble recovery, while junior defensive end Marcell Frazier had a sack and strip and sophomore defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. recovered a fumble.
Senior cornerback John Gibson notched his third career interception and first of the season.
Missouri’s blowout afforded the opportunity to empty the bench.
“I think we played everybody on the roster, which is nice to do,” Tigers coach Barry Odom said. “We’re going to need those guys down the stretch and it’s going to be important.”
Freshman defensive tackle Markell Utsey and redshirt freshman defensive tackle Tyrell Jacobs also saw their first career action with Jacobs garnering a tackle for loss.
Even sophomore walk-on linebacker Jacob Trump and sophomore walk-on wide receiver Steven Spadarotto also earned playing time among others.
“It was awesome seeing those (second-string) guys, but also the walk-on kids,” said Scherer, who’s played in 44 career games with 30 starts at Mizzou. “Those kids work so hard and don’t get much in return. For them to step on the field and just make a tackle is a like a dream come true for them.”
Some guys even put up impressive numbers — like walk-on linebacker and O’Hara High graduate Tanner Hull, who had two tackles in his first career game, and redshirt freshman running back Ryan Williams, a Lee’s Summit West graduate who racked up 51 yards on nine carries behind an offensive line that included newcomers Michael Stannard and Jonah Dubinski.
“It feels amazing, because I was in their shoes my redshirt freshman year … ,” said starting left guard Kevin Pendleton, a Lee's Summit West graduate. “Watching guys not be able to play … I know what that feels like, so I was excited for guys. That was a blessing for them.”
Junior wide receiver Dominic Collins was suspended “for academic purposes” on Friday, Odom said after the game. He will be cleared Monday to resume team activities.
Senior running back Alex Ross (sprained left ankle), sophomore center Samson Bailey (sprained right ankle), sophomore running back Nate Strong (sprained left ankle), redshirt freshman wide receiver Justin Smith (left knee), sophomore wide receiver Ray Wingo (strained right hamstring), sophomore linebacker Terez Hall (sprained left ankle) and junior cornerback Logan Cheadle (sprained left ankle) all missed Saturday’s game.
Junior right guard Alec Abeln, who started at center in Bailey’s place, also left the game in the first half with a sprained ankle.
The Star’s Alec Lewis contributed to this report.