Missouri Tigers quarterback Blaine Gabbert throws the football in the first quarter against the Illinois Illini. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

It was a tale of two halves for the Missouri Tigers in their 23-13 win over Illinois in the sixth and final matchup of the current Arch Rivarly.  (Click here for postgame video)

Mizzou just looked a bit out of rhythm in the first half, maybe a little sluggish? Illinois came out strong and were using a strong running attack behind first year starter and former Rockhurst standout Nathan Scheelhaase. However, in the second half the defense forced three turnovers and the Tigers outgained Illinois 262-85 in the second half as MU turned a 10 point deficit into a 10 point win.

Blaine Gabbert postgame comments

Blaine Gabbert finished 34-48 for 281 yards with two TDs and one INT.  T.J. Moe caught 13 passes for 101 yards and De’Vion Moore led Mizzou with 82 yards rushing as the Tigers finished with 122 as a team.

T.J. Moe’s postgame comments

Defensively, the Tigers came up with three interceptions and Aldon Smith recorded two sacks.  Smith led the team with 10 tackles with three tackles for loss.  Andrew Gachkar had two pass breakups and he forced Scheelhaase to fumble in the first half after Gabbert’s turnover.

Andrew Gachkar’s postgame comments

1st quarter highlights

The key to Illinois’ first drive came when the Illini got flagged for a false start on a 3rd and 6, but Tiger DE Jacquies Smith hit quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase after the whistle and got flagged for a late hit giving Illinois a first down when it could have been 3rd and 11. The Tigers held Illinois out of the end zone after Illinois had a first and goal, holding Illinois to three points. After the Tigers started the game with a three and out, Illinois churned out a 9:14 drive covering 17 plays, 64 yards.

On Missouri’s second drive, Blaine Gabbert connected on a third down conversion, a 14 yard completion to Jarrell Jackson and then a 19 yard catch and run from Wes Kemp to put Mizzou into Illinois territory. However, two plays later, Gabbert cough up the ball on a keeper giving the Illini the ball back at their 35 with 2:59 to play in the first quarter. Missouri’s defense came up big when Scheelhaase got popped by Andrew Gachkar running for a first down and coughed up the ball giving Mizzou the ball back at their 47.

2nd quarter highlights

On first and ten from the 27, on the second play of the quarter, Gabbert was chased out of the pocket and had Jackson open in the end zone and a flag was thrown for pass interference, but instead Jackson stepped out of bounds earlier and became ineligible, negating a 15 yard penalty.

Two plays later, Grant Ressel, who struggled this fall camp with FG kicking, missed wide right on a 37 yard field goal attempt. After the missed attempt, Scheelhaase’s first deep pass was way off the mark and Jasper Simmons came up with an easy INT giving the ball right back to Mizzou.

Tailback De’Vion Moore saw his first action and had three carries for 15 yards. Then, freshmen Henry Josey picked up 10 yards on his first collegiate run. The Tigers were looking to establish their run game. When Gabbert did throw on third down, he went to TJ Moe twice who came up with first down catches. Moe finished the first half as Mizzou’s top receiver brining in six passes for 52 yards. The Tigers got on the board when Ressel made good from 33 yards capping a 12 plays, 45 yards in 5:26 to tie the game 3-3.

On Illinois’ next possession, tailback Mikel Leshoure peeled off a 42 yard run. On a third and ten following that long run, MU cornerback Kip Edwards was flagged with a pass interference penalty. Illinois made good from there connecting on a 12 yard touchdown pass from Scheelhaase to A.J. Jenkins making the score 10-3 Illinois with 2:10 to play in the first quarter. The drive covered 82 yards in 8 plays in 4:46.

As Mizzou went into their two minute offense, Kemp dropped a wide open pass at the Illinois 30 and Gabbert got dumped for a 14 yard sack with :52 to play in the half and Mizzou had to punt the ball away. With :18 left, Scheelhaase rattled off a 20 yard run, setting up a 52 yard kick from Ryan Dimpke as time expired to give Illinios a 13-3 halftime lead. The Tigers were outgained 196-137.

3rd quarter highlights

Missouri looked a little more inspired in the 2nd half. DE Aldon Smith picked up his second sack forcing Illinois to punt and theTigers moved down the field from their 23 with the efficiency we’ve gotten use to seeing. Michael Egnew had three catches and De’Vion Moore ripped off a 21 yard run. (MU had just 23 net rushing yards in the first half). On third down, Gabbert was flushed out of the pocket. Rolling to his left he lofted a pass for the back of the end zone where TJ Moe got his feet down inbounds for a seven yard touchdown to pull the Tigers to within 13-10 with 9:38 to play in the third. The drive covered 77 yards in 10 plays.

After Illinois’ second three and out of the half, Moore ran 13 yards thanks to a big block from Jackson. Kemp then somehow got called for offensive interference while making a one handed catch, but he rebounded with a 14 yard catch. A penalty and two negative yardage plays on screen passes to Moe killed the drive. Mizzou outgains Illinois 147-12.

4th quarter highlights

T.J. Moe’s 26 yard completion burning Illinois’ Nate Bussey who demolished Moe on back to back screen passes in the third quarter. That gave Missouri a first down at the Illini 12. On third down, Gabbert found Egnew on a six yard toss to put MU up 17-13. With 13:26 to play, Moe had 12 catches for 94 yards and a score.

On Illinois’ first pass, Scheelhaase was picked off by Carl Gettis, pulling the ball down with one hand, but MU had to punt after taking over at the Illinois 43. Gettis then came up with a huge special teams play downing Matt Grabner’s 39 yard punt inside the one.

The back breaker came on a third down scramble by Blaine Gabbert who ran to his right and threw back across his body to complete an 11 yard pass to Rolandis Woodland. The Tigers turned that first down into three more points on a 27 yard field goal from Ressel to put MU up 20-13 with 7:21 to play.

Mikel Leshoure broke off a 26 yard run to give Illinois the ball at the Mizzou 42 yard line with under seven minutes to play. Scheelhaase was picked off for the third time of the game, this time Kenji Jackson coming up with the pick, but Mizzou gets hammered with a block below the waist and unsportsmanlike conduct. Instead of Missouri taking over at the Illinois 22 after the run back, MU got the ball at their 25 with 5:40 to play.

Bill’s top tweets. Make sure you follow every Mizzou game at twitter.com/missourisports.

Illinois will have to go 99 1/2 yards if they want to take the lead. Gettis downs Grabner’s 39 yd punt inside the one yard line.

Mizzou outgains Illinois 147-12 in the third quarter.

End of 3rd qtr. Illinois up 13-10. 58,060 in attendance…lowest in the six game Arch Rivalry series…off 4,700 fans from the average.

Scheelhaase getting his back and throwing elbow rubbed down with BenGay on the Illini sideline…do they even have BenGay anymore?

Did Mizzou think this game kicked off at 1:30 instead of 11:30? Defense with two stops in the 3rd qtr, now offense takes over at their 37.

Gabbert rolls out and find TJ Moe in the back of the endzone…great tiptoe catch. Mizzou trails 13-10. 9:38 to go in the third