Tigers start slow but hold off Central Florida

Story by Peter Marek

Dorial Green-Beckham pulls in a pass on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012 at Missouri’s first football practice. DGB caught his first touchdown pass as a Tiger in Missouri’s 21-16 victory over Central Florida Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012 in Orlando, Fl. Photo by Karen Mitchell.

On a day when little went as planned for the Missouri offense, the Tigers outlasted the Central Florida Knights on Saturday to win 21-16 in Orlando, Fla. The win moves Missouri to 3-2 and UCF falls to 2-2 on the season.

The Tiger offense was very slow in the first half, rushing for -6 yards before halftime. The lone bright spot was freshman wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham who scored his first touchdown as a Tiger on an 80-yard pass from quarterback James Franklin in the second quarter.

Missouri’s defense was able to hold the Knights to 10 points in the first half despite the offense only running 20 plays in the entire half. Missouri defensive end Michael Sam recorded a big sack at on the last play of the half when UCF was out of time outs. Unable to stop the clock, the Knights could not get their field goal unit on the field in time. However, the Knights still led 10-7 at the break.

The Tigers came out stronger in the second half, but still had trouble getting the ball in the end zone. Franklin put together a couple good drives in the third, yet couldn’t finish. He threw an interception to defensive back Kemal Ishmael in the UCF red zone to kill a promising drive. A few drives later, the Tigers were stopped trying to convert a pass on fourth down and 1 inside UCF territory. Franklin finished 19-30 for 257 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

The defense gave up 269 yards in the first half, but came out strong in the second half. The Knights totaled only 29 yards in the third quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, Marcus Murphy returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown to give Missouri a commanding 21-10 lead. That was Murphy’s third punt return for a touchdown this season, which gives him as many punt return touchdowns as Jeremy Maclin had in his entire Missouri career. However, on the ensuing drive, the defense allowed Central Florida to go 83 yards in five plays and cut the Missouri lead to 21-16.

With less than three minutes left in the game, cornerback E.J. Gaines forced a fumble. Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson recovered the ball and the Tigers ran out the clock to secure a victory.

Gaines had a big game with 13 total tackles as well as a forced fumble. Richardson also stepped up for Missouri’s defense today with nine tackles and a sack.

Missouri will be back in Columbia to play Vanderbilt next Saturday, October 5 at 6 p.m.

One response to “Tigers start slow but hold off Central Florida

  1. Pingback: Defense, Marcus Murphy save season for Tigers + grades + links » KC SportsNation

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