Tigers cope with tough road loss

Missouri still confident it can compete with ranked programs.
Monday, October 18, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:09 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 3, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas -- One season after failing to win a Big 12 Conference road game, Missouri had its chance to win its second in a row and take the next step toward becoming a high level football team.

No. 8 Texas made enough plays to hold off the Tigers, though, winning 28-20 on Saturday.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said he was proud his team played hard, but it was still a loss.

“They want to win and they are competitive,” Pinkel said. “Anything less than that, I would have been disappointed. We played a very, very good football team, but the bottom line is that we came up short. We didn’t get it done.”

Cornerback Shirdonya Mitchell, who intercepted his fourth pass of the season in the second quarter Saturday, said the Tigers were distraught after the tough defeat.

“We tried to get a win as hard as we could,” Mitchell said. “When we made plays, they would come out and make more plays, and they came out with a win.”

The Longhorns made few passing plays, completing 8-of-20, but when they needed a play, running back Cedric Benson produced, gaining 150 rushing yards for two touchdowns and adding 20 receiving yards.

Missouri’s defense shut down Texas’ offense in the second and third quarters, allowing three first downs and 88 yards, but Benson still impressed the Tigers.

“He did what any good back would do if you don’t wrap him up: keep your legs moving,” safety Nino Williams II said. “He made me a believer, I mean he’s a good running back (and) he played well.”

Defensive back C.J. Mosley said Benson and Texas’ offensive line showed their talent on the Longhorns’ final scoring drive. Benson carried eight times for 56 yards on the drive and got the ball on the final six plays.

“That was a good job by him and their offensive line and a poor job by us, especially with Vince (Young) out,” Mosley said.

Young, Texas’ starting quarterback, left the game with a bruised sternum in the second quarter.

Although the Longhorns’ twice lead by 14 points, the Tigers had a chance to tie before turning over the ball on downs with 1:33 left.

The close game was not a surprise to the Tigers despite entering as definitive underdogs. Mosley said Missouri entered expecting to win and opened some eyes with its performance.

“I don’t know if everybody knew it, but we knew that (we can play with the top teams in the country),” he said. “That’s the confidence we had to have going in the game and we came to win the game. We didn’t just come to play well, we came to win the game.

“It’s a tough loss, but obviously they were the best team, and hopefully that says something about us.”

While Mosley had an optimistic outlook after the close defeat, many of the Tigers were upset about falling short against a ranked opponent.

“The feeling around the locker room is pretty low,” punter Matt Hoenes said. “Texas is a great team, and to have the score that close was upsetting.”

Safety Jason Simpson said the Tigers will use the loss as motivation for the rest of the season.

“(It will) make us want to take it out on everybody else,” Simpson said.

Pinkel said those feelings are good for the team and show how his program has changed from the one he inherited four years ago.

“You don’t walk around and say, ‘Well, we played Texas pretty good,’ and feel good about yourselves,” Pinkel said.

“I think you draw from it later. That locker room is a sad place right now. They’re as upset as I’ve ever seen my players and you know what, that’s good. That’s good. Three years ago, I was the only one upset and walking around like a wild man.”

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