BOULDER, Colo. — Almost every game in Missouri quarterback Brad Smith’s highlight reel displays something he hasn’t done before.
Personal highs to school records and conference and national player of the week awards are included.
Saturday, Smith set another mark, but it was not as pleasant, for he had four turnovers in Missouri’s 21-16 loss to Colorado at Folsom Field.
Taking the hit
The Tigers fell to 6-3 and 2-3 in the Big 12 Conference, and the Buffaloes improved to 4-6, 2-4.
Although Smith had 380 yards of the Tigers’ 447 yards, he fumbled three times, losing two, and threw two interceptions. Although the Tigers gained almost 200 more yards of total offense than Colorado, their turnovers came at crucial times.
In the second quarter, the Tigers had the ball at the Colorado 7, and Smith ran to the left, reached for the goal line but lost the ball when Colorado safety Medford Moorer forced the ball from his hands. Safety Brian Iwuh recovered.
A close call
There was controversy as to whether Smith crossed the goal line before he fumbled.
“I thought I was in, but they must have thought that I wasn’t,” Smith said. “That’s the way this game goes. I was surprised; I thought it was a touchdown.
(The ball) got knocked out, and the refs called it the way they did.”
Missouri’s Rob Droege, an offensive tackle, said he saw the play but declined to comment. Coach Gary Pinkel said he would have to look at the game tape.
“We win a lot of games on turnovers,” Pinkel said. “That’s part of what we do. We had a chance to overcome them, too. We didn’t do that.”
On the first play of the fourth quarter, with the Buffaloes leading 21-9, the Tigers had the ball at Colorado’s 25. Smith ran to the right for 5 yards, but safety Clyde Surrell forced and recovered another Smith fumble.
Smith, who had no fumbles on the season entering the game, completed a career-high 29 passes against the Buffaloes, who came into the game with the nation’s second-worst pass defense.
“He’s not Superman,” Pinkel said. “Brad Smith, he makes quite a few plays. He’ll learn from it, and he’ll get better. There are a lot of other plays besides those turnovers. We had many, many opportunities. We just didn’t take advantage of them.”
Team steps up
The Tigers came to life with five minutes left when second-string tailback Damien Nash broke three tackles on a 48-yard touchdown reception. The Tigers got the ball back with 2:39 left, but on second down, defensive end James Garee sacked Smith for a 12-yard loss. On fourth-and-17, freshman Dominique Brooks intercepted a Smith pass intended for receiver Thomson Omboga.
“Brad’s Brad. Brad played hard all day,” Droege said. “You can’t discredit him at all. He’s always the leader. He’s always up, and he’s always making plays. He plays hard and tries to make plays, and that’s what happens.”
Two defensive penalties on Colorado’s opening drive led to a 16-yard touchdown reception from Joel Klatt to Derek McCoy. Linebacker James Kinney pulled Klatt’s face mask, the first of two facemask penalties against Kinney, and the referees called cornerback Michael Harden for pass interference on an incomplete pass intended for wide receiver D.J. Hackett.
On Missouri’s ensuing possession, it drove to Colorado’s 7, but tailback Zack Abron ran three times for 6 yards and the Tigers kicked a field goal.
After the Tigers’ first touchdown, a 17-yard pass from Smith to tight end Victor Sesay in the second quarter, MU tried a two-point conversion but failed. With 52 seconds left in the half, the Tigers had the ball on Colorado’s 48 but Brooks intercepted Smith’s desperation pass in the end zone.
Streak is broken
Colorado has beaten Missouri five straight times and 17 of the past 19. The Tigers had a chance to win the Big 12 Conference North Division if they had won their remaining games.
“We didn’t pass the test,” Pinkel said.