Of all of the heartbreaking losses the Missouri Tigers have suffered over the years, there aren’t many that can compare with how they lost on Saturday against Kentucky.
The Wildcats, ranked 12th in the county, took advantage of a pass interference penalty in the end zone as time expired, giving them an extra untimed down, which they turned into a 2-yard touchdown pass and a 15-14 win in Columbia.
“There’s losses that I carry with me from years ago,” coach Barry Odom said after the game. “This ranks right up there, probably as the most difficult.”
The Tigers, trying to win a game against a ranked opponent for the first time in Odom’s tenure and since Drew Lock became the starting quarterback, led 14-3 with less than six minutes to go despite not recording a first down in the second half.
Kentucky’s offense wasn’t much better, but they got a spark when Lynn Bowden returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown with 5:18 left that cut Missouri’s lead to 14-9. A two-point conversion attempt failed.
The Tigers still had the lead by that margin when DeMarkus Acy intercepted a Kentucky pass to give the ball back to Missouri with 2:38 to play.
After two runs by Damarea Crockeed gained eight yards, Missouri faced a third-and-two with 1:41 to go at their own 26 yard line. Instead of running the ball again, which would have kept the clock moving and forced Kentucky to use its last time out even if the play did not result in a first down, Lock attempted a pass, which was incomplete, stopping the clock.
A punt gave Kentucky the ball at its own 19 yard line, and the Wildcats completed five passes to move to Missouri’s 10 yard line with nine seconds left. On what should have been the last play of the game, an pass that was caught out of bounds in the end zone, Acy was called for pass interference.
That gave the Wildcats the ball at the 2-yard line for an untimed play, and Terry Wilson hit C.J. Conrad for the winning score that left Missouri’s players and fans stunned.
The loss dropped Missouri to 4-4 on the season and 0-4 in the SEC.
“There’s anger, there’s hurt, there’s sadness – about every emotion on that side of things that you can feel,” Odom said. “That’s what we have.”
For Lock, it was another failed attempt to defeat a ranked team. He is now 0-10 in games against ranked teams in his career. Missouri’s last regular-season win over a ranked opponent was in 2014, when Maty Mauk was the quarterback.
Both of Missouri’s touchdowns came on runs in the second quarter, a 2-yard run by Crockett and a 1-yard run by Larry Rountree III.
Lock completed 15=of-27 passes for 165 yards, but he struggled in the second half, when the Tigers gained a combined 34 yards on their eight possessions.
Missouri gets another chance against a ranked opponent next week, when they go the road to play Florida.