An unrelenting offensive attack from the No. 14/14 Missouri Tigers (7-0, 3-0 SEC) dominated an injured No. 22/22 Florida Gators (4-3, 3-2 SEC) defense, picking up a 36-17 victory on Saturday afternoon at in Columbia, MO.
The Gators allowed the Tigers to rack up 500 yards of offense, the most given up by Florida in 2013, as Missouri became the first Southeastern Conference team in 14 tries to post more than 20 points in a single game against UF’s stout defense.
The visitors were outmatched all afternoon as the Gators struggled on the way to gaining just 151 yards of offense. Florida was 3-for-15 on third down as the Gators’ offensive line allowed six sacks and failed to adequately protect the quarterback throughout the contest or open up holes in the running game most of the afternoon.
After Florida deferred until the second half, Missouri started on offense and got on the board in just 22 seconds.
Quarterback Maty Mauk completed a 41-yard pass on the first play of the game to wide receiver L’Damian Washington, and the Tigers gained 15 additional yards on the play after a targeting penalty was called against Gators redshirt junior safety Cody Riggs. He was subsequently ejected from the game. On the very next play, Mauk hit WR Bud Sasser for a 20-yard touchdown.
Florida went three-and-out on its first possession, running the ball three-straight times, but lucked out on the ensuing punt, which was muffed and recovered by junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy.
Facing first down at Missouri’s 24-yard line, UF gained 17 yards on a rush by freshman running back Kelvin Taylor before stalling and settling for a 23-yard field goal by redshirt junior kicker Frankie Velez.
Near the end of the first quarter, Gators redshirt junior QB Tyler Murphy was intercepted by Tigers defensive back Aarion Penton after a high pass went through the hands of freshman WR Demarcus Robinson, who alligator-armed the throw.
Missouri started at Florida’s 46-yard line with 2:42 left in the first quarter but settled for a 43-yard field goal after UF CB Marcus Roberson batted down a touchdown and sophomore DB Brian Poole registered a tackle for loss on third down.
The Tigers added another field goal early in the second quarter after moving the ball 68 yards on 12 plays, taking a 13-3 lead on the Gators.
Though Florida’s offense was struggling, the defense provided an opportunity to score before the half was out. Down on UF’s 31, Mauk was intercepted by Poole, who returned the ball 25 yards out to midfield. The Gators gained 23 yards on the next two plays, but Murphy was eventually strip-sacked on 3rd-and-11, turning the ball over and failing to give UF an opportunity to kick a field goal before heading into the locker room.
Florida’s offense did not need to step on the field for the Gators to add some points at the start of the second half as senior wideout Solomon Patton brought back the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, the first return score of his career.
Only trailing by three, UF suddenly collapsed on defense and allowed Mizzou to gain 75 yards on five plays – including a 52-yard throw by Mauk to Jimmie Hunt – and regain its 10-point lead after a six-yard rushing touchdown from running back Henry Josey.
The Gators relented on the Tigers’ next possession, too. Purifoy gave up a 37-yard reception to Washington, and Missouri ended the drive with a 39-yard field goal to take a 23-10 lead with 6:40 left in the third quarter.
Florida jumped on the back of freshman RB Kelvin Taylor during the next drive, running him five times for 52 yards. Facing 1st-and-10 at Mizzou’s 34, Taylor gained 14 yards on a rush. On the very next play, he took a handoff from senior WR Trey Burton 20 yards to the house for the first touchdown of his career.
As was the case all game, the Tigers negated a successful play by the Gators with one of their own, gaining 50 yards up the middle on a rush by Josey. Missouri settled for a 33-yard field goal on that possession and added a 38-yard kick on its next drive to take a 12-point lead with 8:04 left in the game.
The Florida defense that bent all game finally broke on the following series. After Murphy was strip-sacked on 3rd-and-6 at UF’s 20, Mauk rushed 17 yards into the end zone and stepped on the Gators’ collective throat in the process.
Florida will have a chance to breathe and lick its wounds with a bye week upcoming. The Gators will next take the field on Nov. 2, squaring off with the Georgia Bulldogs in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, FL.