Photo of shocked Missouri fan thrives on social media

Monday, October 28, 2013 | 9:28 p.m. CDT; updated 5:13 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 30, 2013
A Missouri fan stands in disbelief after Missouri kicker Andrew Baggett misses a field goal in double overtime, causing the Tigers to fall to South Carolina 27-24 on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

COLUMBIA — Conner Carr remembers the noise.

"Just the sound the ball made when it hit the goal post," the MU freshman said. "Just the thunnng. Everybody just sat and stared at the goal post. ... I think it'll be the noise that people will remember the most." 

With that noise, the Missouri football team's 17-point lead and undefeated record was gone. Carr, his chest and face splashed with yellow and black paint, stood with his mouth wide and eyes even wider. A Missourian photographer captured his shocked expression.

The photograph resonated with Missouri fans, gaining more than 500 shares on Facebook and 1,400 views from a posting on Reddit.

"Welcome to Mizzou fandom, kid," a commenter on Reddit said.

Actually, Carr has been a Tiger as long as he can remember, attending several Homecoming parades and football games. He attributes his chest-painting fanaticism to a deep-rooted love of Missouri football and the legacy of his high school spirit. At Liberty High School outside of Kansas City, he was a "yell leader" at sports games, dictating chants and organizing costume themes.

On Saturday, with apprehension building in the fourth quarter, Carr and his friends from the Beta Upsilon Chi fraternity stood shirtless. Some of his compatriots put on jackets and shirts to stave off the cold.

But Carr wouldn't cover up the painted paw print on his torso.

"I hadn't worn a shirt to any game this year, and I wasn't about to start," Carr said. "I just wanted to be an idiot."

Saturday was cold, Carr admitted, but it didn't match the freezing temperatures of the University of Florida game the weekend before. For that game, he camped out at 2 a.m. to get a seat in the front row of Tiger's Lair, the student cheering section. That was cold.

The Florida win didn't prepare Carr or his friends for the emotional roller coaster of the South Carolina game. The Gamecocks scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, tying the game to force overtime.

"As it went on, we just started to shrink," said Josh Rife, Carr's fraternity brother, who stood next to him during the game. "Like, 'this isn't good.'"

After the first overtime ended with both teams scoring touchdowns, South Carolina took the ball for another round of overtime. The Gamecocks were forced into a field goal. As far as Carr was concerned, that guaranteed a third overtime.

"After they get just a field goal, you're thinking, 'We're gonna get a third overtime. We can do this. We have one of the best kickers we've had in a long time,'" Carr said, holding his face in his hands.

The photograph of Carr captured the feelings of thousands of Missouri fans when the ball hit the goal post. His painted body and face, as well as his bow tie, signified the pride and pageantry of the school. But his frozen expression revealed what most Missouri fans felt when the ball hit thegoal post: Panic, confusion, shock.

"He summed up everything," Rife said.

Supervising editor is Richard Webner.

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