Last game tough for Tigers’ seniors

Sunday, November 21, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:07 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

It does not get much worse than losing handily to archrival Kansas for the second straight year. But suffering a fifth-consecutive loss in the last home game of the season somehow made it worse.

For the Missouri seniors it will be their last memory at Memorial Stadium.

Senior Day featured a lackluster performance by the Tigers in which the smallest crowd of the season (53,480) thinned at halftime and at times booed loudly.

“I feel very disappointed for our seniors the last time they play at Mizzou,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “To not have a victory for them is obviously disappointing for me.”

The seniors were some of the few Missouri players who showed life in the game.

Linebacker James Kinney had 10 tackles, earning Missouri’s all-time tackles record with 416. Safety Nino Williams had an interception in the fourth quarter that helped spark a quick two-touchdown rally. Wide receiver Thomson Omboga had three catches for 51 yards.

Those efforts, though, were not enough to avoid an embarrassing 17-point loss and the vocalized anger of Tiger fans.

“There was a lot out there,” Pinkel said. “Certainly for the seniors, for the possibility of a bowl game, the possibility of a winning season. All those things were out there.”

After four-straight disappointing games, Missouri fans saw Kansas score an early touchdown and first voiced their displeasure with a chorus of boos with 7:03 left in the first quarter, a reaction to the Tigers going three-and-out on their third-straight possession.

After Adam Crossett missed a 46-yard field goal with 10 seconds left in the first half and Missouri down 21-0, the fans again booed loudly as the team left the field.

A considerable portion of the crowd left at halftime and did not return as the stands increasingly lost fans as the game went on.

“I understand the fans being upset,” offensive lineman Scott Paffrath said. “They paid for the ticket and they can do what they want.”

The fans were responding to what many players said was a lack of effort by the Tigers, with the exception of the beginning of the fourth quarter when Missouri threatened to come back.

Missouri looked flat from the start and Kansas quarterback Brian Luke picked apart the normally strong Tiger defense in his first career start, while the offense struggled to get first downs.

“I don’t think it was a lack of effort,” Pinkel said. “I think our kids wanted to win.”

Some of the players disagreed with Pinkel’s assessment of the team’s effort.

“Everything seemed slow,” defensive tackle C.J. Mosley said. “It seemed like people weren’t playing hard.”

That attitude has become prevalent during the losing streak, as the players look increasingly lost on the field. Paffrath said that as a senior and leader of the team, it has been frustrating to watch the season deteriorate.

“I didn’t see it coming,” Paffrath said. “I wish I did. It’s a tough way to end your career. We got one game next week and maybe a little redemption. I’d like to win one game before I leave. I don’t know who we beat last.”

The Tigers last win was against Baylor on Oct. 9. Missouri defeated the Bears 30-10 in Waco, Texas for it’s only road win of the season.

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