COLUMBIA, Mo. — Bud Sasser scored two touchdowns and Russell Hansbrough added another to lead Missouri past Vanderbilt 24-14 Saturday and end a two-game home losing streak.
After scoring twice apiece on special teams and defense last week at Florida, the Tigers (6-2, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) used three touchdowns by their offense against the Commodores (2-6, 0-5).
Missouri gained 385 total yards, easily eclipsing its combined total of 266 yards in its last two games. Maty Mauk completed 11 of 23 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns while Marcus Murphy added 93 rushing yards on 16 carries.
Johnny McCrary completed 17 of 31 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start for Vanderbilt, becoming the team’s fourth quarterback to start this season because of injuries.
Missouri leaned heavily on its rushing attack, running 46 times for 244 yards compared to 23 passing attempts. Missouri possessed the ball for 31:09, passing the 30-minute mark for the first time in four games.
While the Tigers struggled to maintain much of a rhythm offensively, they did enough to take advantage of a Vanderbilt defense allowing a league-worst 34 points per game.
Sasser finished with 74 receiving yards, including 13 on a touchdown pass from Mauk with 2:27 left in the third quarter on the heels of a 36-yard run by Mauk, who shook off some of the frustrations of a 20-yard performance last week.
The score provided Missouri a 17-7 advantage, but C.J. Duncan pulled the Commodores to within three points after hauling in an over-the-shoulder, 29-yard touchdown pass from McCrary with 6:53 remaining.
The freshman-to-freshman play capped a 76-yard drive.
Despite Vanderbilt having 31 freshmen receiving playing time this season, and a winless conference record, the team trailed by just a field goal with fewer than three minutes remaining and Missouri facing a 2nd-and-20 on Vanderbilt’s 44-yard line.
But linebacker Stephen Weatherly grabbed Mauk’s facemask on a run, giving the Tigers a first down on the Commodores’ 19-yard line. Two plays later, Mauk found Sasser in the back corner of the end zone for a 26-yard score.
Vanderbilt finished with 240 yards, including only 44 on the ground, and only 53 on its first four drives. The Commodores then traveled 75 yards on their next possession as McCrary found fourth-string tight end Nathan Marcus for a 9-yard touchdown.
The touchdown narrowed Vanderbilt’s deficit to 10-7 with eight second remaining in the first half after Hansbrough scored on a 10-yard run three minutes earlier. Missouri’s running backs accounted for all 77 yards on the drive, including 10 carries for 60 yards and a 17-yard reception by Hansbrough, who finished with 87 yards rushing.