HOUSTON – With 9:54 left in the first quarter Thursday at the Texas Bowl, Missouri's offensive players jogged to the sideline, having failed to sustain their drive against Navy.
Some took a seat. Others stood. All had to watch as the Midshipmen slowly moved the ball in the opposite direction. Most Navy plays were short gains on that touchdown drive, which took 6 minutes and 56 seconds of game time. Timeouts and other stoppages meant an even longer period with Missouri's offense off the field.
After the game, Missouri players did not want to make excuses. Still, they reluctantly acknowledged the difficulty in seeing the Midshipmen control the game's pace through several long drives like that first successful one for Navy.
"Your body starts getting cold a little bit," sophomore wide receiver Wes Kemp said. "You're just trying to stay in the game but when anybody's sitting on the bench combined like 20 minutes with timeouts … it's hard for anybody to get back on all cylinders firing."
The drive previewed the rest of the game, which Navy won 35-13. More work and strain for the Missouri defense meant more waiting and impatience for the offense.
"We had a hard time stopping it, so they ran the clock on us and we on the offense were on the sideline getting cold and stuff," senior receiver Jared Perry said. "We should have executed better."
The temperature Thursday afternoon was in the mid-50s with the Reliant Stadium roof open.
However, out of an hour of game time, Navy held the ball for more than 40 minutes. Most teams are not accustomed to being on defense for that long.
"It sucks just sitting on the sideline," junior running back Derrick Washington said. "You get cold, you have to stand up, run around a little bit."
Washington pointed out the defense gave the team chances to take control.
"I knew the defense was going to turn around and do their jobs," he said. "First half they got a few three-and-outs. We (the offense) got out there and we didn't do anything with it. We had a few possessions where we could have turned it up and taken the lead, but we didn't come through."
Sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert threw just 15 completions on 31 attempts. Kemp was asked whether Gabbert became flustered.
"He was definitely frustrated at the end of the game, but I mean we're all frustrated whenever you go get a first down but then you can't get that next first down," he said. "You want to just get a drive going. Then you're sitting on the bench for another 20 minutes because they're holding the ball. It was just tough."
The Tigers didn't take advantage of the limited scoring opportunities, Kemp explained.
"In this game it was just so critical every possession you had, because you never knew when the next one was going to be," he said. "They (Navy) were going to stall and take the clock and that was their game plan. We never thought it was going to be easy because we know they're a bunch of competitors."