During a national-record-setting high school career, Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk regularly put up video-game numbers on Ohio soil.
He hasn’t lost his touch and showed that Saturday with another record-setting performance in a 49-24 victory for No. 24 Missouri at Toledo’s Glass Bowl.
Mauk, a sophomore who grew up 75 miles from Toledo in Kenton, Ohio, matched the Tigers’ single-game record — and his own career-high established last season in a rout at Kentucky — by throwing five touchdown passes.
He also established new career-bests for passing yards (325), completions (21) and total touchdowns (six) in spearheading an offense that rolled up 502 yards.
“It was awesome — just to see all these people I haven’t seen since high school and them to be cheering like they were,” said Mauk, who wore a wrap on a bruised left hand after the game. “It was an awesome feeling, but it was something I had to block out to make sure we came out and played at a high level. And I thought we did.”
Mauk’s performance also helped ensure that Missouri coach Gary Pinkel’s return to Toledo was a happy one. Pinkel has the most wins in school history for the Rockets (73-37-3) and Tigers (104-63).
“It was a big game for (Mauk),” said senior Marcus Murphy, who led Missouri with 150 all-purpose yards. “He talked about it all week, coming back home to his family. … I’m proud that he came out and did real good today.”
Missouri, 2-0, which never led by fewer than two touchdowns in the second half, entered play as a four-point favorite and trendy upset pick among national pundits, but put together a strong all-around performance.
“That made us even more hungry to come out and play even better,” said sophomore linebacker Michael Scherer, who led Missouri with nine tackles. “We played much better than last week. Communication was much better than it was last week.”
Up 28-7 at halftime, the Tigers’ defense forced a three-and-out before the offense put together its best drive of the season — a 13-play, 85-march — that essentially iced the win.
Rockets sophomore Kareem Hunt scored consecutive 1-yard touchdowns sandwiched around Mauk’s second interception of the game midway through the third quarter, but the energy from an announced crowd of 24,196 was zapped when Missouri answered with back-to-back touchdowns.
Senior wide receiver Bud Sasser’s 25-yard touchdown reception, a tiptoeing run down the home sideline, squelched Toledo’s comeback permanently.
Sasser finished with a game- and career-high 121 yards on five receptions.
Mauk’s fifth touchdown, a 12-yard strike to senior Jimmie Hunt while retreating, finished 21 of 32 for 325 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.
“We’re not a great football team yet, but we’re a lot better than we were a week ago,” Pinkel said. “I think we can be a pretty good team, but, if we don’t get better, we won’t be a very good team. We’ll just be a team.”
Hunt, who also caught a 13-yard second-quarter touchdown, finished with a team-best six catches for 71 yards and two scores.
Junior Russell Hansbrough staked Missouri to the game’s first lead, but Toledo answered with a 38-yard touchdown by Kareem Hunt, who finished with 15 carries for 148 yards and three touchdowns.
Mauk notched his first touchdown on a 7-yard scramble drill to senior Darius White. His first interception came on the next drive, but Sasser’s hustle averted disaster.
Safety Jordan Haden intercepted an overthrow by Mauk and returned it inside the Tigers’ 10-yard line, where caught up to him and ripped the ball free.
Jimmie Hunt pounced on the loose ball — one of several missed chances for Toledo.
Sophomore Aairon Penton snuffed out a drive that started near midfield when he picked off Phillip Ely, a transfer from Alabama who left the game with an apparent knee injury late in the third quarter.
That set up Mauk’s 1-yard touchdown run on a naked bootleg.
Toledo responded with a 10-play drive that reached the Missouri 5-yard line, but a false-start penalty and senior defensive end Markus Golden’s 17-yard sack forced a 44-yard field goal try, which sophomore Harold Brantley blocked.