Interceptions key to Mizzou win over Toledo, 38-23

Story by Ryan Shiner
Photos by Tim Nwachukwu

Defensive lineman Markus Golden (33) intercepts the ball from Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens (2). Golden ran the ball back for a touchdown but was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct while celebrating.

Defensive lineman Markus Golden (33) intercepts the ball from Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens (2). Golden ran the ball back for a touchdown but was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct while celebrating.

In a game that turned out to be a lot closer than many Missouri fans would have hoped, the Tigers (2-0,0-0) edged out the Toledo Rockets (0-2,0-0) on Saturday in front of 56,785 people at Faurot Field, 38-23.

But fans might be more disappointed with the ejection of linebacker Andrew Wilson after being called for targeting. Due to the foul, Wilson is suspended for the first half in the Tigers’ next game, against Indiana.

Missouri began the game the way a lot of its drives went — quickly. The first drive lasting nine plays and went 56 yards, ending with a 35-yard field goal by Andrew Baggett. The drive lasted 2:25 and put Missouri ahead 3-0.

Toledo responded with a 10-play drive that included runs by David Fluellen, who had 32 rushing yards on the drive. Those runs would set up a field goal by Jeremiah Detmer, tying the game at 3. Detmer scored Toledo’s first 9 points.

Missouri’s defense underperformed against Toledo’s offense in the first half, giving up 188 yards. Many of the yards were given up from short screen plays. Many of Toledo’s best plays were courtesy of David Fluellen (214 all purpose yards), who Missouri had little answer for.

“We weren’t covering very good,” coach Gary Pinkel said.

Another Missouri scoring drive in the first quarter kept up a fast tempo. It featured a diving catch by Levi Copelin, completing a 51-yard throw from James Franklin (212 yards passing, 1 TD, 1 INT). Franklin completed the drive with a hand-off to Henry Josey for a 1-yard touchdown run.

In addition to his 212 passing yards, Franklin lead the Tigers in rushing yards with 89 yards on 17 attempts.

Missouri’s offense in the second quarter featured Maty Mauk taking snaps. Pinkel said it was decided before the game that Mauk would take snaps at that point in the game.

Mauk was sacked on two of the three plays he was in. During that series, left guard Max Copeland left the game with a high ankle sprain, and would later return to the game.

Toledo’s defense didn’t just trouble Mauk. Franklin was forced to scramble and was sacked twice during the first half as well.

The Tigers ended the half on a high note when Matt White intercepted Terrance Owens.

In the first drive of the second half, junior defensive linemen Markus Goldman forced an interception and for a touchdown, giving the Tigers the 24-9 lead. It was in the next series that the Rockets got their first touchdown of the year, a 4-yard run by Owens.

The Tigers then showed improved play on the offensive line, sometimes allowing 6 seconds of protection for Franklin to make a decision.

“It felt really good,” Franklin said. “Making time back there is something that I got to get used to, because sometimes I escape (the pocket) a little more sooner than I need to.”

Copeland explained the difference in time for protection in the second half saying, “We kinda changed our protection scheme a little bit,” he said. “But a lot of it was ‘Alright dudes, whatever has happened up to this point, let’s throw it out and we need to start from scratch and let’s roll…’ We had some lapses in performance, and fixed it.”

On one play, Franklin ran up field, and when he saw a defender coming, he went to protect the ball and ended up making a hard hit for a 6-yard gain.

“It was kind of a last second thing,” Franklin said about not running out of bounds.” “I wasn’t really trying to run him over, I was just trying to cover up.”

The Tigers finished out the game by trying to run out the clock.

“We call it our 4 minute offense,” Pinkel said. “We’ve been working on it since two-a-days and it’s nice to see it work.”

Missouri next plays Indiana in Bloomington, Ind., on Sept. 21.

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