Mizzou beat a top-10 opponent on the road for the first time since 1981 on Saturday with a 41-26 beating of Georgia in front of 92,746 people in Athens. Mizzou jumped from No.25 to No.14 in the AP rankings with the win and improved to 6-0 (2-0 SEC East).
Mizzou, led once again by the impressive two-way play of senior quarterback James Franklin, had a 28-10 lead at halftime. Franklin finished with 170 yards in the air on 18-27 passing. He scored once in the air and once on the ground before leaving in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.
He was replaced with sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk, who went a perfect 3-3 passing and successfully kept Mizzou in control. With Mizzou up by just two points with nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Mauk completed a pass to wide receiver Bud Sasser on the flat. To everyone’s surprise, Sasser stopped running and heaved the ball downfield. The pass was complete to L’Damian Washington in the end zone, who made a circus catch to stretch the Mizzou lead.
The unorthodox play wasn’t the only Mizzou play worthy of SportsCenter’s Top 10. In the second quarter Marcus Murphy completed an incredible 36 yard touchdown run that saw him deek and duck past multiple defenders on his way downfield. Murphy’s score put Mizzou up 21-10.
Washington finished with 115 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Running back Henry Josey chipped in with a touchdown of his own, the seventh touchdown of his comeback season.
“We just worked hard as a team,” said Markus Golden, one of Mizzou’s defensive standouts. “We knew it was going to be a tough game. Last night all we talked about was the grind: the grind it took to get here, the grind it was going to take to take this game. And we grinded through it.”
Mizzou’s defense stepped up in the fourth quarter, with Kentrell Brothers and Randy Ponder snatching game-sealing interceptions. The picks ensured that Mizzou’s consecutive games with a takeaway streak would continue. It stands now at 36, which is the longest in the nation.
“We preach that in practice, when you get a take a way in practice,” Golden said. “Everyone on that defense is fighting and itching to get a takeaway, to get a turnover. I want one. Kony (Ealy) wants one. We know we get extra points for that.”
Brothers’s interception came in the game’s final minute. When he grabbed the ball out of the air, the Mizzou sideline exploded in celebration. The redemption for last season’s home loss to Georgia was complete.
“It felt real good,” Golden said. “This is what we expect from ourselves. It was a good feeling, but we’re really ready for the next one. We’re ready to compete against anybody.”
Mizzou is 6-0 after the win, and Golden said that sounds really good.
“7-0 is going to sound real better,” he said.