By Christian Clark, KBIA Sports
The chances of Missouri winning the Southeastern Conference’s East Division for the second straight year were in jeopardy midway through the Tigers’ showdown against Texas A&M in College Station.
Despite outplaying the Aggies in terms of total yards and time of possession, Missouri found itself trailing 13-7 at halftime. SEC East foe Georgia, meanwhile, led Auburn by a comfortable margin. If both results held, the Tigers would surrender first place in their division and cede the East crown to the Bulldogs.
In a season full of surprises, the third quarter saw yet another twist: Finally, Missouri’s offense woke up.
Quarterback Maty Mauk found receiver Darius White on a fade route from 16 yards out to make it 13-13 on the team’s first possession of the half.
Then Russell Hansbrough scored on 33- and 45-yard runs on the next two possessions of the quarter. The latter of the two came when the junior appeared to be bottled up in a cluster of players on the left sideline. Only Hansbrough, who finished the day with 20 carries for 199 yards and two scores, broke out of the scrum and went the distance to put Missouri ahead 27-20.
With less than a minute remaining, running back Ish Witter’s 16-yard run was the highlight on a four-touchdown, 303-yard outburst in the quarter by the Tigers’ offense.
They held a 34-20 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. There were some tense moments down the stretch, namely a fourth-down stop by the Tigers’ defense with the Aggies on their own two. But ultimately, Missouri came away with a 34-27 win.
The offense played its best game of conference play, as they racked up 587 yards, 32 first downs and went 13-of-21 on third down. The brunt of the damage was done on the ground. Missouri racked up 335 rushing yards on 49 attempts.
The Tigers remain in the driver’s seat of the SEC East race with the win, even though Georgia managed to upset Auburn. To reach the SEC Championship game in Atlanta, they must win their final two contests against Tennessee (5-5, 2-4) and Arkansas (5-5, 1-5).
Missouri (8-2, 5-1) faces a Tennessee team, that dominated Kentucky 50-16, next Saturday in Knoxville.