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Missouri finds a way to hold on late despite miscues

Saturday, November 1, 2008 | 7:09 p.m. CDT; updated 7:48 p.m. CDT, Saturday, November 1, 2008

WACO, Texas — Throughout the second half, Missouri’s defense struggled with Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin. After holding the Bears (3-6, 1-4 Big 12) to seven points in the first half, the Tigers (7-2, 3-2 Big 12) had surrendered touchdowns on three of Baylor’s four second half drives, largely because they couldn’t stop the freshmen quarterback.

At the same time, the Missouri offense hadn’t been its usual self. With a 31-28 lead, the defense had to save the day for the first time, and it delivered.

“We knew we could control it if we wanted to,” defensive tackle Jaron Baston said. “I looked everybody in the eye and said, ‘We’ve got to stay together, trust the man next to you.’”

Trusting the man behind Baston worked even better when Brock Christopher’s interception saved the Tigers from dropping to 2-3 in the Big 12.

Ironically, it was Griffin’s first of his college career, and it came in a game where he set the record for most pass attempts without an interception to start a career.

“It was kind of our goal to get one off him, and I was able to do it,” Christopher said. “We had our backs against the wall, and we realized that. The only thing you can do in that situation is fight, so we did.”

In fighting, the Tigers showed that they could win a game in the fourth quarter, something they hadn’t had to do all season long.

At the minimum, that gave Missouri coach Gary Pinkel something to be pleased with, because he viewed it as the sign of a good team.

“In the fourth quarter, when it was time to make a drive, make a kick, make a stop, we did it,” Pinkel said. “I think good teams do that. When it got really tough out there, we did the things necessary to win.”

But good teams also do things necessary to win throughout the game, and the problem was that Missouri did not until it absolutely had to. After a quick start, the Tigers’ offense turned the ball over twice, giving Baylor the momentum it needed to stay in the game.

“It shouldn’t have come down to that (interception),” receiver Jeremy Maclin said. “I think we’re a lot better team than that, but you’ve got to give them credit.”

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