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Turnovers Costly in Loss to Missouri

By NU Athletic Communications

Defensive end Trevor Johnson looks to tackle Missouri quarterback Brad Smith in Missouri's 41-24 win over No. 7/10 Nebraska Saturday.
Postgame Coverage

Columbia, Mo. --  Missouri ended 24 years of frustration, taking advantage of five Nebraska turnovers and erasing a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to secure a 41-24 victory over No. 10/7 (AP/Coaches) Nebraska Saturday evening in Columbia, Mo.

Missouri, which defeated Nebraska (5-1, 1-1 Big 12) in Columbia for the first time since 1973, scored 27 fourth-quarter points, including three scoring runs by Brad Smith, to overcome a 24-14 deficit. The Tigers ended what was the third-longest current winning streak by one team over another in Division I-A. MU also snapped a 45-game losing streak to top-10 teams with the victory.

The Big 12 North Division race is now wide open, as all six teams have at least one loss. After tonight's game, four teams (NU, MU, Kansas and Colorado) are tied with 1-1 records, while Iowa State and Kansas State are both 0-2. The Huskers were one of five top-10 teams upset on a wild Saturday, joining previously undefeated Ohio State, Florida State, LSU and Arkansas.

Trailing 24-21, Missouri (5-1, 1-1 Big 12) converted the Huskers' fourth turnover of the game, a fumble by Jammal Lord, into the game winning score. The Tigers executed a fake field goal on Santino Ricco's 15-yard touchdown pass to Victor Sesay with 11:41 remaining. Ricco, the backup quarterback, lofted a pass to Sesay in the back of the end zone to put MU ahead for good at 28-24. In all, the Tigers converted Nebraska's season-high five miscues into 21 points.

Smith accounted for over 300 yards of total offense and four touchdowns against the nation's top-ranked defense, as he scored on runs of 39, 1 and 9 yards, while catching a 47-yard touchdown pass from Darius Outlaw. Smith overcame his first two interceptions on the year, completing 13-of-27 passes for 180 yards and rushing for 123 yards on 18 carries.

The loss overshadowed strong offensive performances by Lord and I-back David Horne. Lord completed 12-of-18 passes for 146 yards, while rushing for 111 yards. He threw and rushed for a score. Horne came off the bench to rush for a season-high 119 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.

The Blackshirts made their mark on Missouri's opening possession, as sophomore Josh Bullocks intercepted a Smith pass and returned it 16 yards to the 42-yard line. Nebraska converted the miscue quickly, as Lord found Mark LeFlore on a screen pass, and LeFlore raced 55 yards for the score. LeFlore caught a career-high six passes for 76 yards in the loss.

The Tigers got a golden opportunity of their own later in the quarter, as Josh Davis fumbled the Brock Harvey punt, and the Tigers recovered at the 6-yard line. The Husker turnover was costly, as Zack Abron scored on a touchdown run two plays later.

On the ensuing kickoff, NU suffered its second special teams turnover, as wide receiver Jack O'Holleran fumbled the short kickoff, giving Missouri the ball deep in Husker territory. The Blackshirts forced a stop, as Demorrio Williams snuffed out the drive with an interception at the NU 10-yard line.

The Huskers pinned Missouri deep in its territory on the next possession, but the Tigers marched 95 yards on nine plays to regain the lead a 14-7. The Tigers opened the playbook with a 47-yard throwback pass from Outlaw to Smith for the touchdown.

Nebraska had responded on the ensuing drive, going deep into Missouri territory behind the running of Horne. But Missouri's James Kinney forced a Horne fumble that Nino Williams recovered at MU 12-yard line.

The Huskers showed their two-minute offense, setting up David Dyches' 30-yard field goal with two seconds left in the half. Lord, who was 7-for-10 for 138 yards and a TD in the first half, got the ball at midfield with 40 second left and drove 37 yards in eight plays. Lord found Ross Pilkington for a 27-yard completion to set up the field goal by Dyches, putting NU within 14-10 at halftime.

After stopping Missouri on its first drive, the Huskers got a special teams break, as an 18-yard punt by Harvey provided Nebraska with good field position for its first possession of the half. The Huskers took advantage, going 62 yards in 14 plays before Horne capped the scoring drive with a five-yard touchdown run.

Horne, who became the second Husker I-back to crack the 100-yard mark in 2003, had earlier kept the drive alive with a five-yard run on fourth-and-three from the MU 34. NU pounded away on the ground, as 13 of the 14 plays on the drive were via the ground attack.

The Huskers extended the lead to 24-14 two possessions later, going 67 yards on five plays, as Lord, who accounted to 57 yards on the drive, raced the final 35 yards for the score to seemingly give Nebraska some breathing room.

NU, which had given up just seven points in the second half all season, saw its lead whittle to 24-21 with 14:53 remaining on a 39-yard touchdown run by Brad Smith, a play that sparked the Tigers to 27 fourth-quarter points on a defense that had allowed seven second half points all season.

Nebraska will return to action next Saturday, Oct. 18, when they host Texas A&M. The kickoff time will be determined Sunday by the Big 12 Conference at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. or 6 p.m.

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