Herbert Hoover was president the last time Missouri gave up more points against a nonconference opponent at home than it did in Saturday’s 51-45 loss against Middle Tennessee.
But this one — a homecoming loss against a Conference USA foe witnessed by 52,351 at Memorial Stadium — seems more humiliating than the Tigers’ 65-0 loss against Texas on Oct. 8, 1932.
“This is probably the lowest it’s ever got ... ,” said junior defensive end Charles Harris, who finished with four tackles, including one for a loss. “I take that back. My senior year in high school, I felt it. That was the lowest I ever got. This one still hurts. Every loss hurts.”
Harris’ sentiment is understandable, considering that Mizzou’s defense gets the lion’s share of blame for the loss after coughing up 584 yards, including 300 yards rushing.
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It’s the first time the Tigers, who didn’t force a turnover, allowed that many rushing yards at home since Alabama ran for 362 yards in October 2012.
Meanwhile, Middle Tennessee sophomore quarterback Brent Stockstill went 23 of 41 for 280 yards with four homecoming-spoiling touchdowns during a four-hour scoring bonanza.
World War II was still raging the last time Mizzou coughed up that many at home against a nonconference opponent — a 51-7 loss against Iowa Navy Pre-Flight on Nov. 18, 1944.
The Tigers, 2-5, actually outgained the Blue Raiders, 5-2, in total offense with 629 yards, but first-year coach Barry Odom’s squad was guilty of the game’s only two turnovers and committed 13 penalties for 125 yards.
“I’m frustrated that we didn’t win the football game,” Odom said. “We played very poorly in a lot of aspects. … We played sloppy and turned the ball over. We had a lot of penalties and we couldn’t convert on third downs. The defense couldn’t get off the field, too.”
The loss deals a severe — probably fatal — blow to Mizzou’s already slim bowl hopes.
The Tigers would need to win four of its five remaining games — all in Southeastern Conference play — to have a chance at the postseason, an unlikely scenario given a nine-game losing streak in conference play.
That includes a 42-7 loss at LSU and 40-14 loss at Florida in the most recent SEC tilts, but the loss to Middle Tennessee had a familiar vibe despite the reversal of fortunes for the offense and defense.
“It was the same disappointment,” said sophomore quarterback Drew Lock, who finished 20 of 40 for 281 yards with two touchdowns, including a 17-yard strike in the fourth quarter to sophomore Ray Wingo. “It’s hard to describe how it looks and feels in there. It’s dull. It’s not anything that you’d want to repeat.”
Missouri trailed 34-28 at halftime thanks to a spate of gaffes that gifted Middle Tennessee 10 points and probably took points off the board when junior wide receiver J’Mon Moore fumbled in the red zone.
The Tigers lost two defensive starters, senior cornerback John Gibson and senior linebacker Michael Scherer, for the remainder of the game on the opening series.
Stockstill took advantage with a 15-yard touchdown pass to senior Dennis Andrews, a connection later hooked up for the eventual game-winning points on a 5-yard touchdown with 6:17 remaining.
The Raiders added a 39-yard field goal by junior Canon Rooker, who added a 28-yard field goal later in the first quarter and connected from 21 yards in the fourth quarter, after a fumble by Lock on the next drive.
After trailing 10-0, Mizzou stormed to a 14-13 lead after the first quarter on freshman running back Damarea Crockett’s 4-yard touchdown and sophomore tight end Kendall Blanton’s diving, one-handed grab for a 15-yard touchdown from Lock.
The Tigers’ mistakes, however, continued piling up and the lead would change five more times.
Crockett, who finished with 29 carries for 156 yards, added a second 4-yard touchdown, but Mizzou’s defensive issues with tackling reared their ugly head.
Senior I’Tavius Mathers — who finished with 263 yards from scrimmage, including two touchdowns — scored on a 71-yard run and sophomore Richie James added a 56-yard catch and run as the Raiders moved back in front.
Crockett scored on a 2-yard run in the “Bone” package a few minutes later with senior defensive tackle Josh Augusta serving as lead blocker, flipping the lead again before a botched punt snap deep in its own territory basically led to a turnover for Missouri.
James walked in on a 7-yard run one play after punter Corey Fatony fell on the loose ball for a 34-28 halftime lead.
Mizzou retook the lead early in the third quarter on a 21-yard touchdown run by Crockett, who is the first true freshman in program history with four touchdowns in a game and three 100-yard rushing performances in his debut season.
The lead was short-lived as Middle Tennessee answered with a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped by Stockstill’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Mathers.
The Tigers never led again and junior defensive end Marcell Frazier was ejected for targeting, which will force him to sit out the first half against Kentucky next week, on the Raiders’ game-winning drive.
Middle Tennessee 51,
TableStyle: SP-byperiodsCCI Template: SP-byperiods
MTS: Andrews 15 pass from Stockstill (Rooker kick), 11:00
MTS: FG Rooker 39, 7:57
MIZ: Crockett 4 run (McCann kick), 5:28
MTS: FG Rooker 28, 2:43
MIZ: Blanton 15 pass from Lock (McCann kick), :54
MIZ: Crockett 4 run (McCann kick), 5:28
MTS: Mathers 71 run (Rooker kick), 12:20
MTS: James 56 pass from Stockstill (Rooker kick), 6:59
MIZ: Crockett 2 run (McCann kick), 4:02
MTS: James 7 run (Rooker kick), 1:32
MIZ: Crockett 21 run (McCann kick), 13:27
MTS: Mathers 4 pass from Stockstill (Rooker kick), 11:17
MIZ: FG McCann 21, 14:14
MTS: Andrews 5 pass from Stockstill (Rooker kick), 10:31
MIZ: Wingo 17 pass from Lock (McCann kick), 8:44
MTS: FG Rooker 21, 6:17
TableStyle: SP-footballstatsCCI Template: SP-footballstats
Time of Possession
RUSHING: Middle Tennessee, Mathers 28-215, Stockstill 7-70, West 3-15, James 2-5, (Team) 1-(minus 5). Missouri, Crockett 29-156, Witter 19-121, Lock 10-63, Mason 1-20, J.Johnson 1-8, Augusta 2-5, Wingo 0-0, (Team) 2-(minus 25).
PASSING: Middle Tennessee, James 1-1-0-4, Stockstill 23-41-0-280. Missouri, Lock 20-40-0-281.
RECEIVING: Middle Tennessee, Mathers 8-48, James 5-129, Andrews 5-65, T.Lee 2-23, P.Smith 2-13, Stockstill 1-4, Upton 1-2. Missouri, Mason 5-41, E.Hall 3-40, Culkin 3-34, J’.Moore 2-74, Blanton 2-37, Wingo 1-17, Reese 1-15, J.Johnson 1-14, Witter 1-6, Crockett 1-3.
MISSED FIELD GOALS: Middle Tennessee, Rooker 47.