Missouri unable to weather slow start to loss to Texas A&M
COLUMBIA – The Missouri offense showed a bit of delay and the defense managed to make a few saves, but it was too little, too late.
A 21-point hole the team got into after 15 minutes was too much to overcome in the Tigers’ 35-14 loss to No. 23 Texas A&M on Saturday at Faurot Field.
“Overall, I just didn’t play well enough in any of the three phases,” said Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz. “Before we win a championship, we have to stop ourselves from fighting and we couldn’t do it today.”
The Aggies were the last team to succeed against a porous defense against the Tigers run with Isaiah Spiller (20 carries for 168 yards) and Devon Achane (16 for 124) each going over 100 yards.
“I mean that’s the whole team,” said Missouri defensive back Jaylon Carlies. “We all have to do our part. Everyone missed a mission today. Everyone has to do their part at the end of the day.”
After Ainias Smith caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Zach Calzada to open the scoring, Spiller and Achane each had running scores that gave the Aggies a 21-0 lead at 2:43. to play in the first quarter.
Aggie’s first score was established by an interception from Connor Bazelak on the game’s first possession. On a third try, Bazelak threw the ball at Jaylon Jones who sent it back deep into MU territory.
It kicked off a horrible start for the offense, which had a pair of interceptions – Antonio Johnson got another pick for the Aggies at the end of the first – and three punts.
“It starts with not returning the ball in the first quarter and letting them get the 14 points on the turnovers,” Drinkwitz said. “This is where it starts.”
Tyler Badie’s 32-yard rushing score was the extent of the offense in the first half. Badie took a transfer and burst to his left and beat a few defenders on the touchline before taking a few more defenders with him as he rushed into the end zone.
“It was a great block by (Daniel Parker), I waited to set it up, he kicked and I just ran right behind him,” Badie said.
The Aggies responded to Badie’s score with another touchdown pass from Calzada to Smith, this one from 11 yards.
After another MU punt, it looked like Texas A&M would put the game to bed with a three-goal lead and the ball in the red zone, but Jaylon Carlies got his third interception of the season by cutting a road to hang. a pass from Calzada.
This gave the Tigers one last chance to make it a two-goal game before halftime, but Drinkwitz opted to run the time instead, prompting a chorus of boos that sent the team to the locker room at half time before Texas A&M gets the ball to start the second half.
“I was trying to make sure they didn’t get the ball back,” Drinkwitz said. “Because they had their three timeouts and they got the ball to start the second half. If we were to do something and give the ball back to them and then have a chance to score, they would start with that. in the second half and the game would be over. “
The defense, a unit that has leaked at times but had a much better outing than the debacle against Tennessee two weeks ago, got their fourth save in five possessions to start the second half.
“I just felt the way we ended the first half,” Carlies said. “Ending on a defensive save, I felt like it brought energy into the locker room heading into the second half to get out and play.”
Then MU set up a 14-play, 97-yard run with multiple connections from Bazelak to Tauskie Dove before Dominic Lovett scored on a seven-yard swing sweep to reduce the lead to 28-14 and put them back. Tigers in the game.
Texas A&M regained three points when a one-yard score from Achane ended a 75-yard run in 12 games with 2:33 left in the third.
Missouri’s next two drives entered Texas A&M territory, but a run from Badie for a loss on third and 9 and an intentional call to land on Bazelak on a third and 9 on the 35-yard Aggie line took brought the Tigers out of range and forced punters near midfield on both drives.
The defense got another save, but a last breath of offense stalled near midfield with Bazelak missing an open receiver on the fourth and running before the Aggies thankfully ran out of time.
Bazelak had one of the toughest outings of his career, finishing 29 in 43 assists with 230 yards and the pair of picks in the first quarter.
“At the end of the day, he’s our quarterback and he’s a leader of this team,” Badie said. “He has to be confident and we have to keep moving forward and we have to help him as a team and strengthen him.”
Missouri had a week off before traveling to Nashville, Tenn., To face Vanderbilt (2-5, 0-3 SEC) in a two-team battle without a win in the conference.
“You have to self-explore who you are and what the issues are,” Drinkwitz said, “We have to recruit, recruit, recruit and recruit, recruit, recruit, and then we have to prepare for Vanderbilt.”