Story by Kaveh Kaghazi
Photos by Sherman Fabes
Mizzou's star tailback Henry Josey (20) is carted off the field with a knee injury. Josey had 19 yards on 11 carries before exiting the game.
Missouri can’t keep momentum on its side.
In the midst of earning their best conference win of the season, a 17-5 victory against the No. 21 Texas Longhorns, Missouri’s most productive offensive weapon was lost. With Missouri leading 17-3 late in the third quarter, tailback Henry Josey took the ball from James Franklin’s hands and sprinted left. Josey was met by a gang of Longhorns defenders and dragged down near the sideline. Josey’s left knee buckled under him on the way down to the ground.
As the crowd of 61,323 at Memorial Stadium stood still, the Doak Walker Award semifinalist remained on the turf, clutching his knee. When the sophomore from Angleton, Texas was put onto the cart that carried him off of the field, Texas coach Mack Brown ran across the field to give Josey his best.
“I do feel it’s serious,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “I feel really bad for Henry and obviously our whole football team does.”
The loss of Josey is symbolic of the Tigers’ roller coaster season. With momentum seemingly on its side, the Tigers (5-5) would once again see it quickly vanish. Three plays after Josey went down, Texas blocked a Trey Barrow punt for a safety that made it 17-5. But Missouri held strong defensively, forcing Texas (6-3) to its lowest point total since 2004. Pinkel praised his defense for allowing Franklin and the Tiger offense to play a more conservative game in the second half. “They kind of changed the whole game for us,” Pinkel said. “I think we did a really good job of making sure that we limited the amount of big plays.”
Against Texas Tech last week, the Longhorns racked up 439 rushing yards. On Saturday, the Tigers held Texas to 76. “I thought we looked like a pretty well coached football team,” Pinkel said. Senior defensive end Jacquies Smith led the way for MU with a sack and two tackles for loss.
Offensively, Missouri relied heavily on its running game. Tailback Kendial Lawrence picked up the load after Josey went down. The junior from Rockwall, Texas, led the Tigers with 18 carries for a career-high 106 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown scamper in the second quarter.
“(Texas is) a great run stop defense and that is what they key on, so just getting out there and running the ball and moving it just opens up the pass and makes it easier for the offense to score points,” Lawrence said.
After starting the game 10 for 10, quarterback Franklin cooled off in the second half. The Corinth, Texas. native finished the game with 186 yards through the air and 46 on the ground, two of which came on a second quarter touchdown run.
Texas would also see their starting tailback leave the game with an apparent knee injury. Senior Fozzy Whittaker was helped off the field in the first quarter leaving D.J. Monroe and Jeremy Hills as the only healthy runners in the UT backfield. Both were held in check Saturday against a stout Tiger defense. Hills was held to 36 yards on 11 carries and Monroe gained 30 yards on seven attempts.
Missouri’s win was the first against Texas since 1997. Pinkel now has a victory against every Big 12 team, just in time, as Missouri enters the SEC next season. The Tigers are one win away from bowl eligibility with Texas Tech and Kansas left on the schedule. MU will try to do something it hasn’t done all year next Saturday against the Red Raiders—win two games in a row. “Because we haven’t done it back-to-back, the only thing on my mind right now of making sure that we can play well next week,” Pinkel said.
Missouri will play its next two games without Josey. Pinkel said after the game, his backup running backs will be ready to go if needed. Coming into Saturday’s game, Josey had 1,149 yards and nine touchdowns. He also averaged 8.5 yards on his 134 carries, the highest average of any running back in the country with more than 75 carries. Josey underwent an MRI after the game and the results have yet to be announced.