MANHATTAN, Kan. — If Zack Abron had consistently gotten the opportunities he had in the second half, he would have become Missouri’s rushing king and MU might have been the king of the Big 12 Conference North Division.
Instead, Abron and the Tigers fell short of a win and a record.
After his season-high 141 yards against Texas A&M, Abron entered Saturday’s game 83 yards short of Brock Olivo’s career record of 3,026.
Abron moved past Devin West into second on Missouri’s list with 3,015 yards. West had 2,954.
Abron carried the ball on Missouri’s first play and didn’t get another rush until MU’s first play in the second half. He didn’t do much with his only first-half opportunity, gaining 1 yard against Kansas State’s stout run defense.
The Wildcats entered the game No. 17 in Division I against the run, allowing 107.2 yards per game and 2.8 yards per carry.
After Kansas State stopped Abron for no gain with 10:20 left in the third quarter, it seemed that he would have no chance to break the record. Instead of calling it a night, Abron began to have success.
After a Brad Smith run for 11 yards and threw an incompletion, Abron carried five times for 31 yards, putting Missouri in position to cut the deficit to 21-14. Smith promptly threw an interception, ending the drive.
Abron gained 2 yards on MU’s next possession before breaking a 37-yard touchdown run with 3:18 to play. Abron ended the game with 71 yards on a season-low nine carries, falling short of the record by 12 yards.
Missouri didn’t run much in the first half because of the Wildcats’ defensive sets, Abron said.
“It was hard because there was a lot of people in the box,” he said.
DQ GETS A TD: Tight end DeQuincy Howard’s 2-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter was his first.
Howard doubled his season catch total with the grab.
He said he was pleased to get a touchdown, but was disappointed in the loss.
“It was exciting, but it would have been even better if we had won the game,” Howard said.
SIMPSON OUT: David Overstreet started in place of outside safety Jason Simpson.
Simpson did not travel to Manhattan. Overstreet made 12 tackles in his first start.
Like Howard, Overstreet said the loss was bittersweet.
“This loss hurts,” Overstreet said. “When you’re a competitor like I am, any time you lose makes you want to break out in tears.
“I can’t stand losing; if it’s a spitting contest, I want to spit farther than you.”
MIXED BOWL: Representatives from four bowls were in Manhattan.
The Independence, Fiesta, Alamo and Tangerine Bowls sent representatives to the game.
The Fiesta Bowl, a member of the Bowl Championship Series, is likely to take Kansas State if it can beat Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game Dec. 6.
The Alamo Bowl has the fourth choice of Big 12 teams, and the Independence Bowl has the fifth choice. Either of those bowls are a possible destination for the Tigers.
The Tangerine Bowl has the seventh choice. Both teams will most likely be gone when the Tangerine makes its choice.
PINKEL GETS GREEN: Pinkel agreed to a one-year contract extension Friday that will take him through the 2008 season.
He is in the third year of his original contract. Missouri extended that contract for two years in August 2002. The new deal increases Pinkel’s base pay from $192,000 per year to $250,000.
MU is 16-18 under Pinkel, and the Tigers’ progress under Pinkel is most apparent this season. Missouri is 7-4, 3-4 in the Big 12 and bowl eligible for the first time since 1998.
Athletic Director Mike Alden said Pinkel’s rebuilding job was a big reason for the extension.
“Gary Pinkel is well on his way to building a top-notch program,” Alden said. “The progress shown on the field speaks for itself.”
Said Pinkel: “I’m very grateful to the entire University community for its support. A commitment like this validates all the work you put in, and is very critical to the building process.”