Coach Powers Tigers to victory

Sunday, October 12, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:07 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Former Missouri coach Warren Powers has some magic left, apparently.

Powers, Missouri’s coach the most recent time it beat Nebraska and the most recent time it beat a Top 10 opponent, was in attendance for Missouri’s 41-24 win against the Cornhuskers on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

The win was the Tigers’ first against Nebraska since 1978, when they beat the Cornhuskers 35-31 in Lincoln, Neb. It was Missouri’s first win against a Top 10 opponent in 45 games.

The Tigers’ most recent win against a Top 10 opponent came when they beat Mississippi State on Oct. 3, 1981. The win also snapped the Tigers’ 20-game losing streak against Top 25 teams.

Powers was among the crowd of 68,349, which was Missouri’s first sellout since 1999, also against Nebraska. Powers was on hand for a reunion of his 1978-84 teams, which were honored on Faurot Field during the first half.

DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL: While college football fans likely were adjusting their television sets to make sure they were seeing the score right, Missouri’s minor adjustments, and a few major ones, helped it win the game.

Missouri shook things up a bit, opening up the playbook with several trick plays, including backup quarterback Sonny Ricco’s 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Victor Sesay on a fake field goal.

The Tigers also used different formations, such as a two-tight end set featuring J.D. McCoy and Sesay.

Sesay started the Tigers’ Sept. 27 loss to Kansas because McCoy sat out with a strained medial cruciate ligament in his right knee.

The Tigers also made a change on defense, starting freshman defensive end Xzavie Jackson in place of Brian Smith. Jackson first played against Kansas after missing the first four games with a broken left foot.

“Coach told me early in the week that I was going to play, and then when it came to game day, he said, ‘You’re in there,’” Jackson said. “I said, ‘OK, this is my chance.”‘

Jackson made 3 1/2 tackles.

PERFECT NO MORE: Missouri quarterback Brad Smith threw his first two interceptions of the season. Smith had gone 140 pass attempts without an interception until Josh Bullocks picked off a Smith pass at the Nebraska 26 on second-and-9.

In the second quarter, Demorrio Williams intercepted a Smith pass on third-and-goal from the Nebraska 7, stopping a Tigers drive.

Smith made light of the interceptions, which was easy because his 350 total yards and four touchdowns overshadowed them.

“It felt real good,” Smith said. “I threw a couple of picks to get it out of the way. It felt good. We were just wide open.”

RECORD WATCH: Missouri tailback Zack Abron moved into a tie for third place on Missouri’s career rushing yards list. Abron, who gained 84 yards on 20 carries, passed former quarterback Corby Jones and tied Darrell Wallace at 2,607 yards. Abron needs 420 yards to break Brock Olivo’s record of 3,026.

Abron’s 6-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was the 34th of his career, leaving him in need of four more to tie Jones’ record.

With a 26-yard return on the opening kickoff, Nebraska’s Josh Davis broke the Big 12 Conference record for kickoff return yards, passing Colorado’s Ben Kelly.

Davis returned three kicks for 97 yards and has 1,887 yards, passing Kelly’s 1,798.

HONORS: The Missouri basketball team also was honored, going on the field during a timeout in the first half. The Tigers begin practice Friday with “Mizzou Madness” scheduled for 10 p.m. at Hearnes Center.

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