Missouri receiver Danario Alexander caught 10 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns including an 80 yard score in the second half (Mizzou’s first touchdown in the second half during Big 12 play) as the Tigers beat Kansas State 38-12.
With the win, the Tigers move to 2-4 in the Big 12 North and 6-4 overall becoming bowl eligible. The Tigers have been just outplayed in every second half of Big 12 play, but this time they came out and made a statement. Leading 17-6 at the half, it looked like it would be another meltdown.
K-State took the opening kick and went 12 plays covering 42 yards in 5:40. Josh Cherry kicked his third field goal of the game to make the score 17-9. The Tigers quickly went three and out and the Wildcats moved the ball down the field again putting together another 12 play drive. The defense bent, but didn’t break and K-State settled for their fourth field goal of the game to make it a 17-12 Mizzou lead.
I had the sense it was slipping away again from Missouri, but after a touchback, Gabbert found Alexander over the middle and he raced away from four K-State defenders to put Missouri up 24-12 with under a minute to go in the third quarter.
The Tigers got the ball back on a fumble recovery just four plays later when Will Ebner recovered the ball after Jacquies Smith stripped Daniel Thomas. The Tigers drove 61 yards in nine plays, capped by a four yard run from Derrick Washington.
Mizzou did a great job of limiting Thomas to just 79 yards on 23 carries. Up 31-12, the Mizzou defense came up big again when Jarrel Jackson picked up K-State’s Grant Gregory and returned it 27 yards to the K-State 25. Three plays later, Washington was in for his second score at the Tigers ran their version of the Wildcat formation to go up 38-12.
The exclamation point of the day came on K-State’s last possession of the game. Gregory found Brandon Banks, K-State’s other big play maker on a 4th and 8 pass that Banks took down to the Missouri two. The Tigers stopped K-State on four straight plays while the clock ran down and Mizzou kept the Wildcats out of the endzone. Banks also fumbled in the first half trying to stretch the ball over the goalline. That fumble resulted in a touchback.
Banks had 8 catches for 128 yards, but was held out of the endzone. Alexander had two touchdown catches in the first half. His second came late in the first half when Gabbert lofted one of Danario’s shoulder from 16 yards out. The other came when Gabbert found Alexander deep for a 54 yards strike that put Mizzou up 10-3 early in the second quarter.
Gabbert was 20 of 27 for 298 yards and three TDs. Half of his completions went to Alexander while this other 10 completions were good for just 98 yards.