Missouri receiver T.J. Moe races down the sideline 68 yards for a Mizzou score. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Missouri linebacker Andrew Gachkar had his head down on the bench saying a prayer. Wide receiver T.J. Moe said he was thanking Jesus for giving him one more chance. Mizzou’s last offensive play of the game turned into a six yard out/Hail Mary as Moe raced 68 yards down the sideline with less than a minute to go to pull out a 24-20 win over San Diego State.

Blaine Gabbert had just thrown his second interception in the fourth quarter and the Aztecs couldn’t run out the clock and needed to punt the ball away with less than two minutes to go. Starting from the MU 12, Gabbert hit Jerrell Jackson for a 20 yard pass taking the ball out to the 32. Gabbert threw a quick out to Moe along the Tiger sideline. Moe was going to head out bounds, but his defender overplayed. Jackson laid a nice block into Jose Perez who ran into one of his players allowing Moe a clear sideline for the game winning touchdown.

T.J. Moe talks about his night

Brandon Gerau hugs T.J. Moe after his touchdown. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Head coach Gary Pinkel was very impressed with his players for overcoming a lot of adversity to pull out this win. Every player said San Diego was a very talented team, aggressive on defense and tenacious in their running game.

The Aztecs ran for 250 yards including two touchdowns from Ronnie Hillman who broke off runs of 75 and 93 on plays where the Tigers could simply not wrap him up. However, if you take away those two runs, Hillman managed just 60 yards on his other 21 carries.

SDSU’s quarterback Ryan Lindley wasn’t all that effective either. He was just 20 of 44 for 190 yards and he threw an ill-advised pick at the goal line after Missouri turned the ball over at their own seven early in the fourth quarter.

The key in this game was that the Tigers just weren’t consistent.  In the first quarter alone, I counted four pass attempts where receiver had defenders beat and if they catch the ball or Gabbert gets it to them, it’s a touchdown.  The offense could never get into a rhythm, but what I’m impressed with is the team never stopped believing in themselves. 

Pinkel said it best when he said in his first four years, there is no way his team would have won because they didn’t believe in themselves.  He said this team is used to winning even when they are not playing their best.

Gary Pinkel postgame comments

1st quarter highlights

On the opening drive, Blaine Gabbert found Michael Egnew on a 26 yard completion as Gabbert hit his first three passes. MU had two pass attempts that would have gone for six on slants, but Gabbert overshot Egnew and T.J. Moe had a rare drop. On a third and one, DeVion Moore went 17 yards untouched capping a nine play, 80 yard drive. Mizzou 7-0.

The Aztec offense came as advertised early. SDSU drove the field on their opening drive capping the score on a fake reverse which led to an 11 yard score by running back Walter Kazee. The game was tied 7-7 with 10 play 80 yards in 4:10.

Moe dropped two passes in the first quarter. Both were potential big play touchdowns. Egnew dropped a pass over the middle on the opening drive that would have been a touchdown and late in the first quarter, Jerrell Jackson dropped a potential touchdown pass in the end zone after he beat his defender.

Carl Gettis had a 31 yard punt return setting up a short field at the SDSU 36 yard line following a punt off an Aztec drive that started inside their one yard line. Kendial Lawrence ripped off a 20 yard run on a third down play extending the Tigers’ third possession of the game. Grant Ressel made a 34 yard field goal to put Mizzou up 10-7 with :26 left in the first quarter.

2nd quarter highlights

The defense for both teams tightened up in what was supposed to be a shootout. Aldon Smith picked up a sack with 6:06 to play in the first half. It was the first sack allowed by the Aztec offensive line. Then the fireworks started in the final three minutes.

The Tigers finally found the end zone during their hurry up drill. The Tigers made it 17-7 thanks to 28 yard pass to Brandon Gerau, and then an 11 yard run by Gabbert. The drive went 8 plays covering 78 yards, 2:01, leaving just a minute left in the first half.

The Aztecs came right back when Ronnie Hillman broke off a 75 yard run to bring SDSU back to 17-14. If you take that one run away, the Tigers held SDSU to 151 yards of offense up to that point. Not bad against a team that came in highly regarded offensively.

3rd quarter highlights

Michael Egnew pulled in four catches on the Tigers’ opening drive of the third quarter giving him 10 for the game. The Tigers connected on a 38 yard field goal to go up 20-14. Mizzou put together a nice 12 play, 74 yard drive. Egnew had 11 catches for 129 yards through the first three quarters. Mizzou’s defense held SDSU to just 58 yards in this quarter.

4th quarter highlights

De’Vion Moore fumbled the ball after Mizzou started a drive at their own five. San Diego recovered and started at the MU 7. On second down, Kevin Rutland picked off Ryan Lindley, snapping the quarterback’s streak of 116 straight passes without an INT. Rutland returned it from the goal line out to the 22.

After a punt and two penalties back SDSU to their five, two plays later, Hillman busted through the Missouri line and ran 93 yards for his second touchdown of the game giving the Aztecs a 21-20 lead with 10:55 to play.

With just under five minutes to play, Gabbert was picked off on a third and long. This came one play after Gabbert pitched the ball behind Henry Josey while running the option.

The play of the game…T.J. Moe’s 68 yard touchdown catch and run with less than a minute to go after San Diego could not run out the clock following Gabbert’s second INT of the quarter.