Bittersweet victory

Saturday, November 8, 2008 | 11:06 p.m. CST; updated 11:27 p.m. CST, Saturday, November 8, 2008

COLUMBIA — It was far from his best game, but Chase Daniel will never forget running down the line of front-row fans at Memorial Stadium after the 17-point win over Kansas State.

Following tradition by grabbing a whitewashed rock from the field’s giant M, Daniel celebrated his last home game with the remaining fans from a crowd of 68,349 that stood through the bitter November night.

The Tigers didn’t play many games under the lights before Daniel and the 21 other seniors turned the program around under head coach Gary Pinkel. The games weren’t televised, as 10 of this season’s games have been scheduled. And Missouri hadn’t had this high of an average season attendance since 1980. 

Reserve quarterback Chase Patton got his first career touchdown pass when he hit Jared Perry for a 13-yard score in the fourth quarter.

“I didn’t even get to warm up,” Patton said. “I was lucky just to get that ball out of my hand. But it’s going to be a great memory to have.”

There were plenty of memories for other seniors. Tailback Jimmy Jackson had a career-long 37-yard run. Kicker Jeff Wolfert, consistent as ever, went out with three successful point after attempts, two field goals and a 37-yard punt. Wide receiver Tommy Saunders had 6 catches for 62 yards.

Reserve players, like Zach Milligan, who don't usually get much playing time, took the field for at least a snap this game. Starting tight end Chase Coffman, however, was sidelined with a toe injury. His younger brother, Carson, a backup quarterback for Kansas State threw a touchdown against Missouri.

Memorable as it was, Saturday wasn’t the seniors’ ideal goodbye to Faurot Field.
“We’re proud of it, but we could get a lot better,” Daniel said the team’s performance on the night.

It was an ugly win. Missouri had 7 penalties for a loss of 60 yards. Daniel went 24 for 36 with 2 interceptions and numerous close calls. The first quarter was a mess, and though the Tigers eventually started to make plays, the struggles persisted.
Somehow the Tigers ended with 511 total yards and 41 points. They weren’t satisfied.

“The expectations are high here,” Daniel said. “I know it looks like a blowout, but I got to get better.”

Whether or not the game lived up to all the seniors’ hopes for their last one in Columbia, the players know they leave a Missouri program invigorated by their success over four years. This is a class that vaulted the expectations to new heights.

“What they’ve done for Missouri, are you kidding me?” Pinkel said. “As we continue to build it (the program), they just set a bar and I’m forever indebted to them.”

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