COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri coach Barry Odom got a much-needed gift on the eve of his 40th birthday.
Drew Lock completed 16 of 26 passes for 268 yards and a touchdown, and Missouri scored 21 unanswered second-half points in a 28-24 victory over Arkansas 28-24 on Friday.
Missouri (4-8, 2-6 Southeastern Conference) has faced a number of off-field issues in recent weeks, including the arrest and suspension of leading rusher Damarea Crockett, and the firing of defensive line coach Jackie Shipp.
Odom discussed the impact of a win following such circumstances.
“I'm tremendously proud of our seniors and this team to finish the way that they did,” Odom said. “We learned a lot about ourselves, we learned a lot about this team, and I'm proud that our seniors were able to walk out of there with a win against a pretty good football team.”
Austin Allen led Arkansas on a 10-play drive on its final possession, but he was hurried on fourth-and-goal from the 20 and was whistled for intentional grounding.
“We knew we weren't that far off,” Odom said. “We knew if we could go execute just to try to battle to get back in the game a little bit … just asked them to try to get it in the fourth. If we could do that, then you don't know what's going to happen.”
J'Mon Moore caught six passes for 135 yards, becoming the only 1,000-yard receiver this season for Missouri. Moore was also credited with a rushing touchdown after picking up a ball that running back Ish Witter dropped prior to crossing the goal line.
Witter had just five carries for 12 yards, but an early injury gave way to Nate Strong as the primary ball carrier. Strong finished with 17 carries for 52 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 12:48 remaining.
Allen was 24 of 39 for 348 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions for Arkansas (7-5, 3-5). Drew Morgan had six catches for 54 yards, and Keon Hatcher caught three passes for 105 yards.
“I think the thing that was very, very obvious was the tale of two halves,” Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said. “We didn't match the intensity that we needed to in the second half to get this win.”
Arkansas took a 7-0 lead in the first minute after a 66-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage set up a 1-yard touchdown by Rawleigh Williams. By halftime, the Razorbacks led 24-7 and had outgained Missouri by nearly 200 yards.
Missouri honored 17 seniors during pre-game ceremonies, including cornerback Aarion Penton, who had six tackles, two pass breakups and an interception in the end zone with 4:02 seconds remaining.
Linebacker Donavin Newsom, normally No. 25, wore No. 30 in honor of linebacker Michael Scherer, who led the Tigers in tackles before suffering a season-ending knee injury in a 51-45 loss to Middle Tennessee Oct. 22. Newsom added two tackles, one sack and a pass deflection.
Arkansas: In the first half, Williams rushed 12 times for 68 yards and a touchdown, and Whaley had eight carries for 54 yards and a score. In the second half, the two were held to 49 yards. After converting 7 of 10 third-down attempts in the first half, the Razorbacks were 2 of 7 on third down in the second half.
Missouri: The Tigers struggled defensively in the first half, surrendering 318 total yards. In the second half, Missouri had six tackles for a loss and forced two interceptions in the red zone, one of which set up a touchdown. The Tigers finished with 11 tackles for loss and four sacks.
Arkansas will await bowl selection, marking the third consecutive season the Razorbacks have attained bowl eligibility. They defeated Kansas State 45-23 in the 2016 Liberty Bowl on Jan. 2.