COLUMBIA — Unless you count South Dakota State running back Zach Zenner's first carry of the game, a Missouri season-opening victory against the Football Championship Subdivision foe was never in doubt at Faurot Field.
Zenner, a senior who has racked up 2,000-plus yards on the ground in back-to-back seasons, raced 75 yards untouched on the Jackrabbits' first play from scrimmage. The extra point equalized the game at seven points following the Tigers' opening drive, which ended with quarterback Maty Mauk's first pass of the year finding Darius White 44 yards in the end zone.
On the ensuing drive, Mauk connected with White again, this time for a 39-yard score that White hauled in over his shoulder at the edge of the end zone. With the two catches, White, a senior, recorded more yards (83) than he had through all of 2013 (76).
And the 24th-ranked Tigers never looked back, winning 38-18.
Mauk ended the day by going 12-for-21 with 173 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Following White's second grab, nickelback Duron Singleton's interception extended MU's nation-leading turnover streak to 45 games.
Ten yards away from the end zone, tailback Russell Hansbrough shimmied off tackles and changed direction to the left to bring his team's advantage to 21-7 with 6:31 left in the opening frame. Hansbrough finished the game with a career-high 126 yards.
The only scoring in the second quarter came on a 39-yard field goal from SDSU's Justin Syrovatka.
The Jackrabbits appeared resurgent out of the locker room, as quarterback Zach Lujan, in for the injured Austin Sumner, found the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Jason Schneider for gains of 27 yards and 10 yards. That set up Zenner's goal-line touchdown plunge. Schneider hauled in a two-point conversion to cut Missouri's lead to 21-18.
On the following kickoff, Marcus Murphy brought the home crowd back to life by taking it back 102 yards, the longest kickoff return in school history since 1976.
In an attempt to respond a possession later, Lujan targeted Schneider in the end zone, but it sailed into MU cornerback Aarion Penton's hands.
Missouri's offense squandered the opportunity, though, going three-and-out. The Jackrabbits took over and converted two third downs before defensive end Markus Golden ripped through the line and brought down Lujan to force the punt. On the day, Golden had a career-high 10 tackles.
The third quarter ended with the Tigers leading 28-18. They punted it away in their first drive of the final quarter, making it the third straight series they did so. On the next drive, Mauk, who had no completions in the third quarter, lofted a 29-yard jump-ball in the end zone to Bud Sasser, who came down with it in single coverage.
Kicker Andrew Baggett capped Missouri's scoring with a 44-yard field goal. He missed on his previous two tries from 34 and 55 yards out.
Missouri travels to Toledo Saturday to play the University of Toledo Rockets.
Supervising editor is Greg Bowers: email@example.com, 882-5729.