Friday, January 03, 2014

Missouri: 2014 Cotton Bowl Champions

 — After a mostly quiet night, Missouri’s unanimous All-American defensive end Michael Sam came up with the biggest play Friday in a 41-31 victory against Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium.
Sam raced around the left end with the Cowboys driving in the final minute, tracking down quarterback Clint Chelf from behind. Sam’s sack forced a fumble that sophomore Shane Ray scooped up and raced 73 yards for a game-ending touchdown.
The play gave Sam, who led the Southeastern Conference in sacks and tackles for a loss en route to becoming only the second unanimous All-America in program history, 11 1/2 sacks on the season.
Before that, Oklahoma State, which trailed by 10 at halftime, seemed poised to retake the lead and end Missouri’s remarkable turnaround in its second season in the SEC.
The victory also moved Tigers coach Gary Pinkel alone into first place on the program’s career wins list. Pinkel, who is 102-63 in 13 seasons at Missouri, passed Don Faurot, who went 101-79-10 in 19 seasons.
The Tigers, 12-2, trailed 31-27 after junior Desmond Roland’s 2-yard touchdown run with 5:04 left, but quarterback James Franklin, who had an otherwise tough ballgame in his college swansong, engineered a 69-yard go-ahead touchdown drive.
Junior Henry Josey scored his third touchdown on a 16-yard run as Missouri jumped back in front 34-31 in the closing minutes.
The game had been something of a snoozer for three quarters before both teams finally found rhythm on offense down the stretch.
Tied at 17-17, Josey moved Missouri back into the lead with a 25-yard touchdown run at the 11-minute, 32-second mark.
Oklahoma State answered less than two minutes later when Chelf weaved his way for a game-tying 23-yard touchdown.
Franklin was bailed out when he threw a pick-six as former KU cornerback Tyler Patmon stepped in front of sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham for an interception and 40-yard return. Patmon was whistled for pass interference to the chagrin of the Cowboys’ faithful in the crowd of 72,690.
Seven plays later, the Tigers took the lead instead on a 46-yard field goal by sophomore Andrew Baggett.
Sluggish doesn’t begin to describe the game’s start, which was memorable primarily for dueling interceptions and dropped passes by the Tigers throughout the first quarter.
Missouri finally broke a scoreless stalemate with three minutes remaining when junior Henry Josey scooted into the end zone on a 3-yard option pitch from senior quarterback James Franklin.
The drive was set by senior cornerback E.J. Gaines’ team-leading fifth interception of the season at midfield.
Oklahoma State senior quarterback Clint Chelf, who had scrambled from the pocket and appeared to have a clear path to the first down before throwing the ball straight to Gaines, answered with a 40-yard touchdown strike to junior Josh Stewart.
The Tigers then closed the half with 10 straight points for a 17-7 halftime lead.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Maty Mauk took over for a series and scrambled for 35 and 34 yards on consecutive plays.
Mauk capped a six-play, 80-yard drive by dropping a pretty 24-yard lob to senior wide receiver Marcus Lucas, dropping the pass over leaping cornerback Ashton Lampkin trailing safety Shamiel Gary.
Baggett added a 35-yard field goal on the second quarter’s final play, but the Cowboys would storm back thanks to two fumbles by Franklin.
The first, on a read-option handoff to Josey, set up Chelf’s 21-yard touchdown to Jhajuan Seales late in the third quarter and the second, on an option pitch to Josey, led to freshman Ben Grogan’s game-tying 25-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

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