After dominating most of the first half on Saturday, Missouri allowed a late score, and Oklahoma State used the change in momentum to dominate the second half at Memorial Stadium. The Cowboys scored in the final minute to defeat Missouri 20-17.
Trailing 17-0 with 0:54 left in the first half and having gained only 32 yards, No. 22 Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-1) marched 80 yards in 50 seconds to close within 17-7.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said everybody will look at that drive as the turning point, and it came down to the Tigers not making a big play when they needed to.
“It affected us big,” defensive end Xzavie Jackson said. “It took the air out of our sails, it stopped the boat moving and they just drove it down our throat.”
It was the first home loss for Missouri (4-3, 2-2) since a 38-0 defeat on Nov. 23, 2002 to Kansas State.
The late first-half score changed the tide of the game. Oklahoma State racked up 276 yards in the second half and limited the Tigers to 87 yards.
“Oklahoma State played a great game,” Pinkel said. “And the second half we weren’t able to get the momentum back and we didn’t execute on either side of the ball very well.”
Safety Jason Simpson said he is disappointed in the defense’s inability to stop the Cowboys in the second half.
“Well, they had 20 unanswered points and the defense has got to stop them,” Simpson said. “We just weren’t doing our job, we weren’t doing what we were taught to do, what we expected to do, so we did kind of give away a game.”
Although the Cowboys were unable to take advantage of the momentum switch on their first drive of the second half, Cole Farden’s punt was downed at the Missouri 2-yard line. When the Tigers were forced to punt three plays later, Oklahoma State had good field position and control of the game.
The Cowboys scored on the ensuing possession with a 27-yard field goal from Jason Ricks and the Cowboys defense continued to stiffen, again forcing Missouri to punt. The Tigers’ offense controlled the ball for more than 21 minutes in the first half and looked in control before being shut out in the second half.
Cowboys coach Les Miles said he was never worried that his team was out of the game.
“There was never any doubt that I didn’t believe that this team was not going to have the resolve to come back,” Miles said. “A good football team comes from behind. And I can tell you this, today we were a good football team. I really felt that the second half was all ours (going into halftime).”
Oklahoma State continued to pressure the Missouri defense driving to the Tigers’ 25 early in the fourth quarter, but wide receiver Sean Coffey leaped to block another Ricks field goal attempt to keep Missouri ahead 17-10.
That lead was short lived. Oklahoma State quarterback Donovan Woods raced through the Missouri defense from 34 yards out to tie. Facing a second-and-10, Woods took the snap, faked a handoff to Vernand Morency and raced the opposite direction, catching the defense by surprise and scampering into the end zone to tie the game.
“They didn’t do a lot of things different,” Pinkel said. “They had a quarterback counter play that worked really well for them that they hadn’t run before. But they made the plays.”
The Tigers’ offense finally showed signs of life, responding with a drive into Cowboys territory behind the running of Damien Nash, who carried five times for 20 yards on the drive. Facing a third-and-four, though, the Tigers handed the ball to third-string running back Beau Viehmann. Viehmann was stopped for a one-yard loss and Oklahoma State drove for the go-ahead score.
Pinkel said the play was the result of a mistake in communication between the sidelines and Brad Smith.
“There was a mix-up in the signal, Brad did not call the play we signaled in,” Pinkel said. “But that was one football play.”
Smith said he didn’t realize it was the wrong play until he turned to handoff, but was positive that Viehmann could make a play to keep the drive alive and the Cowboys took their first lead of the game on the next possession.
Coffey, who caught a touchdown in the first half, said the Tigers lost focus in the second half, but they can learn from the defeat to finish the season strong.
The game seemed destined for a tight finish as the two teams battled through 15 minutes of scoreless football, before the Tigers scored on the last play of the first quarter. Smith passed to tight end Martin Rucker in the end zone with no time left in the period.
Smith rolled to the right on the play but after he was unable to locate Rucker, who was open in the back of the end zone, he reversed field to the left sideline and finally saw Rucker wide open in the middle of the field.