Despite good start, pace slows for Missouri offense

Saturday, November 17, 2012 | 10:46 p.m. CST; updated 12:12 a.m. CST, Sunday, November 18, 2012
Missouri quarterback James Franklin looks for a pass in the second quarter of the game against Syracuse on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

COLUMBIA — James Franklin stood expressionless on the sideline.

He stood still, even as his team drove down the field. Even as Kendial Lawrence scored a touchdown to put the Tigers up 24-17, Franklin didn't cheer or clap at all.

The last home game for Missouri seniors was a 31-27 loss to Syracuse, but it was the junior quarterback who had the worst night of all.

He was injured again. It was the fifth time this season that Franklin did not play a complete game because of injury.

"I just got the word that he was dinged," said Missouri coach Gary Pinkel. "Our trainers pulled him out. We'll see where it goes from here."

"He's had a remarkable year. I've been doing this a long time and I've never seen a quarterback have all the things happen to him physically that he has had happen to him. It's certainly frustrating and we really feel bad for him."

It wasn't a poor performance. Franklin was playing his best game of the year, but he left the game in the fourth quarter.

He started the game on fire, completing each of his first eight passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns. He looked sharp even when pressure was coming.

On one play with unblocked Syracuse linebacker Dyshawn Davis charging at Franklin, the quarterback kept his cool and found Jimmie Hunt down the middle of the field. Hunt then cut it back and took it to the end zone to give Missouri a 14-0 lead.

But as the night went on, the pace slowed for the Missouri offense. Even with Franklin in the game, Missouri missed opportunities to convert short-yardage third downs. Missouri missed opportunities to score and allowed Syracuse to endure Missouri's hot start. The game was tied before Franklin went out.

"You feel for anybody like that. We've had a lot of injuries this year," said quarterback Corbin Berkstresser. "It's kind of pestering us. Definitely feel for him."

Berkstresser came in the game and immediately led a touchdown drive, but after Syracuse took the lead, his last desperation heave was intercepted as time expired.

Berkstresser said he was disappointed to not send the seniors out with a win in their last home game.

T.J. Moe, who was playing his final game at Memorial Stadium, let out tears before the game as he came out of the tunnel and hugged teammates. But after the disappointing loss, he acted like Senior Day didn't matter to him.

When asked if he was disappointed he didn't get to take a rock from the rock "M" after the game, he responded, "Ehh, that's a little overrated. I'll be all right."

Moe had already focused his attention on playing Texas A&M next week. It's not clear who will start for Missouri at quarterback.

As Syracuse receiver Alec Lemon finished off his 12 catch, 244-yard performance by running free into the end zone, all Franklin could do was watch.

Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.

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