Mizzou stumbles, recovers and surges past Murray State 58-14 in opener 

In first game back from injury, Josey shines

By The Associated Press
Photos by Karen Mitchell

Henry Josey lunges into the end zone, scoring a touchdown in his first game back since being injured in 2011.

Henry Josey lunges into the end zone, scoring a touchdown in his first game back since being injured in 2011.

Missouri handled the 98-degree heat just fine. Players showed a bit of poise, too, against a lightly-regarded opponent that had the upper hand for a while.

Starting quarterback James Franklin.

Starting quarterback James Franklin.

James Franklin threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns before coming out early in the third quarter, helping the Tigers take command after early struggles and whip Murray State 58-14 Saturday night in its opener.

“You want everything to go perfect,” coach Gary Pinkel said after Missouri finished with 45 unanswered points. “I don’t want any stress. By the way, there wasn’t any, was there?”

Henry Josey was presented with the game ball after gaining 113 yards on 13 carries with a 68-yard score in his first game back from a left knee injury that required two surgeries and sidelined him all last season. Russell Hansbrough had 104 yards on eight attempts with a pair of scores for Missouri, coming off a disappointing 5-7 record in its first SEC season.

Murray State’s Maikhail Miller threw three interceptions, two caught by E.J. Gaines, against a defense that stiffened after allowing two early touchdowns. Murray State faded quickly against its first SEC opponent since 2005, getting 11 first downs in the first quarter and just five more the rest of the way.

“You could tell midway through the second quarter, we just ran out of gas,” coach Chris Hatcher said. “It’s like pushing on a brick wall over there for four quarters.”

Walter Powell, who opened the scoring with a 17-yard reception, said depth took a toll.

“That was the story,” Powell said. “I think I sweated about three gallons of water out of me.”

Miller, who transferred from Mississippi last month, threw a touchdown pass and caught one on a flea-flicker for a 14-13 lead with 3:58 to go in the first.

Missouri scored the last 17 points of the first half, recovering from a rough start on both sides of the ball against a school picked to finish tied for sixth in the FCS-level Ohio Valley Conference. Franklin was done for the evening after throwing two touchdown passes the first 5:09 after the break, a 37-yarder to Darius White and 4-yarder to L’Damian Washington to make it 44-14.

It’s the third career 300-yard game for Franklin, who was 26 for 38 and ended up 7 yards shy of his career best against Baylor in 2011. Missouri lost Franklin’s other two 300-yard efforts.

“I thought James played very well, he was poised,” Pinkel said. “He’s the distributor.”

Franklin’s lone regret was that he wasn’t in the game when Josey scored.

“I was really excited for him, seeing him haul down the sideline,” Franklin said. “That was pretty cool.”

Josey outran a pair of defenders who had the angle on his burst down the sideline in the third quarter. He received a prolonged ovation during pre-game introductions and again after a 20-yard gain on his first carry.

Hansbrough had 101 yards on seven carries and two scores in the rocky first quarter. A turnover ended the opening drive when Bud Sasser fumbled after a catch and kicker Andrew Baggett had an extra-point kick blocked and missed a 30-yard field-goal attempt.

Baggett hit a 43-yarder at the end of the half.

Murray State finished with 297 total yards after gaining 196 in the first quarter and needing 1:15 to go 59 yards on its opening drive capped by Miller’s touchdown pass to Powell. Miller spun away from Kony Ealy and strutted into the end zone on a 5-yard flea-flicker pass from wide receiver Jeremy Harness, a play that opened with a lateral pass, for a 14-13 lead late in the first quarter.

Miller, a sophomore who played sparingly last season at Ole Miss, was 16 for 32 for 145 yards and had a team-leading 73 yards on 11 carries.

Hatcher said the notion Miller had a lot of SEC experience was a “misnomer” with playing time against nonconference schools.

“Yeah, he was practicing with them but that’s a lot different than playing,” Hatcher said. “In my standpoint, this was his first collegiate game.”

Missouri is 10-0 against FCS teams under Pinkel, entering with an average score of 50-7, and beat Murray State 47-7 in 2006 in the only other game between the schools. Kansas City Chiefs backup quarterback Chase Daniel made his Missouri debut in that game with five touchdown passes, and attended Saturday night’s game.

Pinkel said wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham was a minor injury concern, getting X-rays for a bruised hand that were negative. Green-Beckham had four catches for a career-best 83 yards.


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