Outlaw couldn’t pass up big catches

Sunday, September 21, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:16 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Thomson Omboga dropped a pass. Sean Coffey dropped two. Darius Outlaw dropped zero.

With Missouri down 24-23 to Middle Tennessee in the third quarter, quarterback Brad Smith needed one of his receivers to make a big play. Outlaw, a converted quarterback, came through for Smith and the Tigers.

After Blue Raiders kicker Brian Kelly made a 19-yard field goal to put Middle Tennessee up 24-23, Coffey dropped two straight passes and the Tigers were forced to punt. Omboga dropped a pass on MU’s next possession and Missouri followed with another punt.

With MU down 34-26 and 5:11 to play, Outlaw said the Tigers went to a no-huddle offense to try to catch the Blue Raiders off-guard. Coffey redeemed himself with a 17-yard catch and Omboga added a 9-yard grab to set the stage for Outlaw.

On first down from the Blue Raiders’ 12, Smith rolled to his left and then found Outlaw in the left corner for a touchdown with 1:17 to play. The touchdown set up Smith’s two-point conversion and sent the game to overtime.

Outlaw said he expects to make big plays and knew his teammates would do likewise with the game on the line.

“You always have to think you need to make the big play,” Outlaw said. “Those guys were trying to make a play and they took their eyes off the ball a little bit. They came back on our last drive and made some key catches. My mentality is to make a big play every time I touch the ball. If those guys see you making a play then they will, too.”

Outlaw finished with six catches for 39 yards and two touchdowns. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said he missed Outlaw’s second touchdown.

“I didn’t see it,” Pinkel said. “I just heard people go crazy. Apparently it was a big catch.”

WORKING OVERTIME: The Tigers played their ninth overtime game since the current overtime method of allowing both teams a possession began. Missouri has played the most overtime games in the NCAA under the current format and is 6-3 in those games. The six overtime wins also are an NCAA record.

RUSHING TO THE RECORD: Zack Abron moved up the MU rushing yardage list for the second week in a row. Abron rushed for 138 yards on 18 carries and passed James Wilder for fifth on the list.

Abron is 615 yards behind Brock Olivo’s 3,026. Abron added a 64-yard run in the second quarter, the longest of his career.

INJURY REPORT: Abron, center A.J. Ricker and tight end J.D. McCoy suffered injuries Saturday.

Abron didn’t start because of a bruised right foot and said the foot bothered him last week and he was unable to practice because of the injury.

Ricker continues to struggle with an injured left foot. He said he doesn’t think the injury will keep him out of any games.

McCoy saved the game for the Tigers with a juggling catch on fourth-and-2 to give Missouri a first down on the drive that tied the game at 34 with 1:17 left in regulation. McCoy sprained his right knee on the play and left the game.

“How about that fourth down play?” Pinkel said. “Go back and look at that catch. It was thrown behind him. J.D.’s really been playing well.”

McCoy said he expects to return during the week leading up to the Tigers’ Oct. 11 game with Nebraska.

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