Husker defense hard to break through

The Missouri-Nebraska football game kicks off before noon Saturday, and the Cornhuskers’ No.1 ranked rush defense is hoping to give Tigers’ fast-paced, option-based rushing game a morning wake-up call. The Tigers’ running-game recipe of graceful pirouettes, shifty spins and artful ankle-breaking moves averages 235 yards per game, tops in the Big 12 North Divsion, but Nebraska’s disciplined defense leads the nation in fewest rushing yards allowed per game, surrendering only 65.

Right where he belongs

Most Hickman football players and coaches had retreated to the locker room moments after last Friday’s game had ended. One coach lagged behind, walking hand-in-hand with his 18-month-old daughter along the narrow asphalt path that connects the field to the locker room. With his free hand, he patted the backs of players and shook the hands of parents, before handing his daughter off to his fiancee and disappearing into the locker room.

Bruins’ White returns to form

Coming to Rock Bridge his sophomore year, Aron White could not have been more excited to play varsity football. There was only one problem. He knew it wasn’t going to happen. And his talent wasn’t the issue.

Bruins runners watch steps

With the cross country postseason approaching, the Rock Bridge boys’ team is hoping to avoid the only thing that seems to be able to slow it down: injuries. The team has the talent to go far. Three first-place invitational finishes this season are evidence of that.

Out of comebacks

ST. LOUIS — Instead of altering the National League championship series, Albert Pujols’ dramatic Game 5 home run simply gave the St. Louis Cardinals a chance to play a goodbye game at Busch Stadium. Any momentum provided by Pujols’ drive was halted by the brilliant pitching of Roy Oswalt and the Houston Astros’ bullpen in a 5-1 Game 6 loss on Wednesday night. Pujols’ home run, it turned out, was the last big hit by his 100-win team in a season that again failed to deliver on considerable promise.

Missouri survives sloppy execution

Flat and ugly are not words you usually use to describe a win, but that is how Missouri volleyball coach Wayne Kreklow described his team’s performance against Oklahoma Wednesday at Hearnes Center. The No. 10 Tigers defeated the Sooners 30-24, 30-26, 30-22.

Cook, Clinger share challenge

Missouri football player Mike Cook has a little bit of a beef with his teammate Joel Clinger. The two juniors are roommates, but Clinger has never gone with Cook to see his hometown of Friendswood, Texas, a Houston suburb.

Best friends lead Bruins

After missing an easy shot, Karla Kruse shakes her head, walks over to her partner and says, “Ashley, don’t forget to breathe.” Ashley Miles grins, acknowledging the comment before turning around to take her position for the next point.

Set up for big things

As the setter for the No. 10 Missouri volleyball team, Lindsey Hunter is a one-woman distribution center. On any given play, Hunter chooses a destination point and seamlessly gets the ball where it needs to go with precision and accuracy. Whether she jump-sets to an outside hitter or stays grounded and sets to a middle blocker behind her, Hunter does it with style and grace.

Bruins, Kewpies rebound at state

After two long days of competition on the difficult Fremont Hills Country Club in Springfield, five Rock Bridge and Hickman golfers headed home disappointed from the 2005 Missouri Girls’ Golf State Championship, but Bruins coach Melissa Melahn was optimistic.. “I feel really great about their scores,” Melahn said of her three golfers.

Iowa State keeps Smith at bay

In his four seasons as quarterback of the Missouri football team, Brad Smith has not been immune to the occassional bad game. But Saturday’s thumping at the hands of an Iowa State defense that ranks seventh in the Big 12 Conference set a new low for the Tigers’ prominent signal-caller.

Mavs to put baseball on hold in ’06

The Mid-Missouri Mavericks will not lose a single game during the 2006 baseball season. They won’t win one, either. Mavericks President Gary Wendt announced Monday that the team will suspend operations for the 2006 season to push for construction of a new stadium.

Taunts can’t stop Crossett

Missouri kicker Adam Crossett was upset after hearing a small contingent of Missouri fans boo him several times early during Saturday’s win against Iowa State. “It baffles me how you can come to the game in Mizzou attire and then cuss out your own players,” Crossett said. “It was by no means the majority of the people there, but there was a section in the front row that was definitely letting me and other players have it.”

Cards heading back to Busch

HOUSTON — For a team that fell apart in Game 4, the St. Louis Cardinals sure pulled it all together just in time. The team that lost its cool, its manager and its second-best run producer in a late-game meltdown a day earlier appeared on its way to a quiet postseason exit until one out remained Monday night. Then, Albert Pujols’ dramatic three-run home run rescued the Cardinals’ 100-win season, at least for now, in a 5-4 victory over the Houston Astros in Game 5 of the NLCS.

Bruins lose final home match

This part of the schedule wasn’t supposed to end this way for Rock Bridge’s five senior volleyball players. Playing their final match in Rock Bridge’s gym, the Bruins battled but couldn’t overcome the hitting of the Versailles Tigers, losing 24-26, 25-21, 25-21 on Monday.

Hockey team wants home

JEFFERSON CITY — Despite the 30 minutes it takes to get to the capital city’s Washington Park Ice Arena, fans of the MU Hockey Club regularly pack the bleachers to watch their team’s “home games.” The fans during a Sept. 24 game against rival Kansas were in an uproar. The MU fight song blared over the speakers. Students and alumni chanted as they would at any football game. Children pressed their cold faces against the Plexiglas wall that separated them from the action.

Pinkel says Smith still MU’s starter

Entering the season, many Missouri football fans were skeptical of coach Gary Pinkel’s decision not to redshirt quarterback Chase Daniel. The thought was playing Daniel in mop-up duty behind senior Brad Smith would waste a year of his eligibility. But after Daniel’s game-saving, comeback performance in the Tigers’ 27-24 overtime win against Iowa State on Saturday, that talk was probably put to rest. The discussion now becomes whether Daniel, the former EA Sports National Player of the Year whose name fans chanted as they filed out of Memorial Stadium, should see more playing time or even take over at quarterback for Brad Smith, who had a career-low 45 yards passing and was booed by some after committing two costly turnovers in the third quarter.

Texas Tech falls to MU soccer

The Missouri women’s soccer team ran past Texas Tech 4-1 on Sunday in Lubbock, Texas. Senior Amber Swinehart had two goals and senior Jennifer Nobis added a goal and two assists. Aria Hudetz had the Tigers’ (8-5-3, 3-3-2 Big 12) fourth goal. Nobis got the Tigers out to an early lead with a goal in the seventh minute. The Red Raiders scored to make it 2-1 in the 67th minute. But the Tigers answered with two goals in three minutes.

Surprise ending

Missouri’s star quarterback Brad Smith was lying on the field at the 20-yard line. He had just taken a ferocious hit from Iowa State linebacker Tim Dobbins, and a collective gasp from the 55,016 fans at Faurot Field echoed throughout the stadium. Missouri trailed by 10 with only 8:51 left to play. “Things were not looking good,” coach Gary Pinkel admitted.

Small uniform, big heart

No. 88, a number that does his thick, under 5-foot-tall frame justice, lumbers from the huddle to the line of scrimmage. Backed by 10 warriors dressed in the Chiefs’ deep red uniforms, Eric Pope hikes up the thigh pads of his grass-stained pants before bending at the knees and waist to dig in. He paws at the Pee Wee size football until the laces are turned out and his thumb, which is half the size of a grown man’s, rests firmly on the white stripe of the ball.