COLUMBIA — Markus Golden has put on 40 pounds and changed positions in the three years since he left Affton High School.
But in the third quarter of Missouri’s 38-23 win over Toledo on Saturday, the Missouri defensive lineman — and former high school running back — was able to show off his speed to the 56,785 fans in attendance at Faurot Field.
Golden, a redshirt junior with 12 career tackles entering the game, was on the field for a second-down play.
“I got off (the line of scrimmage) pretty fast,” Golden said. “And the tackle slid down.”
Unblocked, he chased down Rockets quarterback Terrance Owens, who bobbled the ball in the air while attempting to pass.
“I just remember pushing him, I guess, and the ball just fell in my left hand,” Golden said. “And I just did the rest."
The “rest” was a 70-yard dead sprint to the end zone to give the Tigers a 24-9 lead.
And while Golden — who ran for 2,264 yards and 30 touchdowns as a high school senior at Affton — had done it before, he’d never made such a play as a 260-pound Division I lineman.
The crowd erupted as he slammed the ball to the turf and pointed into the stadium’s south stands, which the referees determined was unsportsmanlike conduct. They assessed Missouri a 15-yard penalty on the kickoff, and a chorus of boos rained down on the field.
“I was pretty stunned,” said Golden of the penalty, for which he never received an explanation. “But I take full blame for it. Now I know, next time I score, just get off the field and celebrate with my teammates.”
The penalty gave Toledo great field position, and they punched in a touchdown on four plays, but the biggest penalty came four plays before Golden’s score.
Middle linebacker and senior captain Andrew Wilson was flagged for targeting a Toledo receiver’s head with his forearm. The infraction had severe consequences: not only did Toledo get a new set of downs instead of having to punt, but Wilson was ejected from the game and will be suspended for the first half of Missouri’s Sept. 21 game at Indiana.
The personal foul and Golden’s unsportsmanlike penalty had the crowd audibly upset. Toledo didn’t need any extra help.
In fact, the Rockets refused to be defused until the fourth quarter. Running back David Fluellen was outstanding. He gave Missouri fits on the ground and through the air while racking up 214 total yards on 27 touches.
“I liked him,” said Missouri linebacker Darvin Ruise. “I think he’s very shifty, but also a nice-looking running back. To me, he was the best running back we’ve faced so far.”
Fluellen was a big reason why Toledo outgained Missouri 387-384, but he couldn’t do enough to match Missouri quarterback James Franklin. The senior Tiger bruised his way to 77 yards on the ground and led two crucial touchdown drives at the end of the game to extend Missouri’s lead from one point to 15.
Even with the offensive success, though, Golden’s play was still the biggest of the day.
“I’ve been preparing for this,” he said. “When I picked it off, the first thing that popped into my head was, ‘Just go score.’”