The Missouri Tigers celebrate their senior night and Battle Line Rivalry game

The Missouri Tigers celebrate their senior night and Battle Line Rivalry game

The Missouri Tigers celebrate their senior night and Battle Line Rivalry game The Missouri Tigers celebrate senior night and the Battle Line Rivalry game win over the Arkansas Razorbacks on Friday in Columbia.

Missouri seniors clambered up the massive white "M" behind the north end zone of Faurot Field in small waves, plundering the letter for souvenirs by which to remember both a senior day beatdown of Arkansas and college careers packed with memories good and bad.

Each player selected a rock. Afterward, he walked back toward the mass of black and gold waiting in the grass to the side.

Drew Lock was greeted by his smiling father, Andy, who played for the Tigers three decades earlier. Redshirt senior offensive linemen Paul Adams and Kevin Pendleton posed for a camera together while holding their souvenirs. Terry Beckner Jr. held his above one shoulder. Then, he gave a high-five to a fan with his free hand.

And they delivered one final thank you to the remaining Missouri fans who had stood in the cold, windy rain to send off this senior class, taking pictures with many and receiving congratulations from others.

"They've shown me a lot of love," Beckner said. "Too much. Really, one of the reasons I came to this school was because of that family atmosphere."

"Coming from a big city (in Nashville), this is a lot different," Adams added. "It's unbelievable. A place like this comes together on Saturdays to support a bunch of 18- to 23-year-olds."

Missouri (8-4, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) cruised past Arkansas (2-10, 0-8 SEC) 38-0 on Friday. The Tigers recorded their first shutout since 2016 against Delaware State and their first against an FBS opponent since 2010 against Iowa State. With the win, they extended their lead in the Battle Line Rivalry to 4-1 and the overall series to 7-3. Missouri reached eight wins for the first time since 2014 despite playing a schedule that included four teams ranked in the top 13.

The Razorbacks finished the season with double-digit losses for the first time in program history. They'd only finished with nine once — former coach Bret Bielema's 3-9 debut in 2013.

"No one wants to lose," first-year Arkansas head coach Chad Morris said. "Losing is not acceptable in this program. ... I knew that this was the toughest league in college football, and it definitely did not disappoint. It did exactly what I thought was going to happen. You’ve got to have depth, and you better have some speed."

Lock led the way with four total touchdowns, including two on the ground for the first time in his career, on 16-of-25 passing (64 percent) for 221 yards. Both his passing scores were caught by fellow senior Emanuel Hall, who racked up 153 yards on six receptions. Sophomore Larry Rountree III added 119 rushing yards on 29 attempts, eclipsing 1,000 yards on the season for the first time in his career.

"The (trust level) is high," head coach Barry Odom said. "But also, it starts with the five guys up front. The offensive line has done a heck of a job this year, no matter who the back is, creating opportunities to run. ... Coach (Brad) Davis stepped in and took a group that had some success, and he's taken them to another level."

Arkansas running back Devwah Whaley had a solid day with 54 yards on 13 carries and 61 receiving yards, but he was the only standout for the Razorbacks. The team recorded minus-9 yards on 23 rushes by players not named Whaley, as well as 122 yards through the air.

The Tigers didn't take long to get going, driving 75 yards in 11 plays on the game's opening possession to take a 7-0 lead. Lock pulled the ball back on a read option from the 9-yard line and sprinted to his left, diving through an attempted tackle for the score. Missouri's defense followed by forcing a three-and-out.

Offensive coordinator Derek Dooley chose to lean on his running game in the wet and windy conditions, but the Tigers went three-and-out on each of their next two drives.

The defense picked up the slack through its pass rush, recording a season-high five sacks and resuming the tear it started last week at Tennessee. Jordan Elliott began his career day with a sack on third-and-12 on Arkansas' second possession. It was the first of his three sacks in the game.

"It (hasn't) been since high school since I've been in the zone like that," the redshirt sophomore said. "Just knowing that I'm going to beat my man and knowing that we're having a race to the quarterback."

Down 7-0 late in the first quarter, the Razorbacks nearly found a spark when quarterback Ty Storey rolled right and hit junior Deon Stewart for a 42-yard gain, but the play was called back for an ineligible man downfield penalty. Three plays later, pressure from Elliott and freshman Trajan Jeffcoat forced Storey to unload a pass early. It ended up straight in the gut of senior Terez Hall for an interception.

Missouri took complete control from there.

The Tigers capitalized on the field position as a 35-yard drive ended with Lock's second read-option score of the game, this one from 3 yards out.

On second down of the ensuing Razorbacks' drive, Elliott clobbered Storey as the quarterback geared up to throw from inside his own 15, sending the ball flying backward. A frenzy of Tigers and Razorbacks scrambled across the turf in pursuit of it, pushing the ball into the end zone before defensive end Akial Byers fell on it to extend the Tigers' lead to 21-0.

Arkansas made it as far as the Missouri 26 two possessions later, but stalled out from second-and-5. On fourth down, Connor Noland, who had taken over for Storey, rolled to his right on a bootleg but was chased from behind by Hall, who dove at the quarterback's legs and brought him down for the team's fourth sack (Jeffcoat picked one up on the previous drive).

Arkansas almost escaped to halftime with "only" a three-score deficit. The defense turned over Missouri on downs at the Razorbacks' 3-yard line with about five minutes to go, but the Tigers cashed in on their final drive of the half, which started at the Arkansas 43. Freshman Tyler Badie reeled off a winding 32-yard run on first down before Lock found Hall on a slant for a 6-yard touchdown.

The Razorbacks had one more chance to score down 28-0 after halftime. Their second drive of the third quarter started at their own 47 before two quick plays gave them first-and-goal at the 10. Noland, however, threw three incomplete passes on the next four plays.

A free play because of an offsides penalty on the ensuing drive allowed Lock to find Hall for a 67-yard bomb. The receiver made a defender miss and raced across the middle of the field to the end zone and extended the Tigers' lead to 35-0, putting the game away for good.

Missouri retained the Battle Line Trophy for a third straight year Friday. Come bowl season, the team will be hunting for an even more prestigious prize. But both are fleeting. Arkansas will win the Battle Line Rivalry again some day. A bowl game title would only last for a year.

One memento picked up in the season's final weeks will endure far longer than the rest.

"I'm going to look back at this (rock)," senior tight end Kendall Blanton said. "And every time I do, I'm going to remember everything I went through here at Mizzou: good, bad, ugly.

"And I'm going to smile."

Supervising editor is Eric Lee.

  • Assistant sports editor/copy editor, spring 2019 Studying print & digital sports journalism Reach me at BMLHF6@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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