Lock, Witter help Missouri earn late win over Arkansas
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) For all his eye-popping passing statistics, Missouri quarterback Drew Lock hasn’t had all that many opportunities to showcase his abilities in close games this season.
Lock showed he can perform at his best and lead the Tigers to a narrow win in the Southeastern Conference on Friday, throwing for 448 yards and five touchdowns in a wild 48-45 victory over Arkansas.
Missouri (7-5, 4-4) trailed by 14 points twice in the first half in a game that featured five lead changes, and it didn’t secure the win against an emotional Razorbacks team until Tucker McCann’s 19-yard field goal with five seconds remaining.
”Really, I’m just more excited than I’ve been after a college football game,” Lock said. ”You dream about that as a quarterback … I’m a little speechless.”
Arkansas (4-8, 1-7) fired coach Bret Bielema moment after the game, but not before yet another disappointment in a season full of heartbreak for the Razorbacks – this one at the hands of Lock and the Tigers.
The junior entered the game needing three touchdown passes to set the SEC’s single-season record for scoring throws, and he had that by the end of the second quarter. He set the record with a 10-yard throw to Albert Okwuegbunam and added two more in the second half, the last of which was a 24-yard strike to J’Mon Moore that put the Tigers up 45-42 midway through the fourth quarter.
Lock now has 43 touchdown passes this season, topping the previous SEC best of 40 that was set by Kentucky’s Andre Woodson in 2007. He finished 25-of-42 passing on Friday to help Missouri cap its remarkable turnaround from a 1-5 start to the season, and he’s thrown at least three touchdown passes in eight straight games.
”I was actually thinking about it a couple of days ago, I’m playing with one of the best quarterbacks in history, not only for Mizzou or the SEC, but in general,” Missouri wide receiver Emanual Hall said.
Moore led Missouri with 160 yards receiving on 10 carries, while Hall added two touchdown catches and 111 yards receiving. Okwuegbunam also had two touchdown catches to bring his season total to 11 from his tight end position.
Ish Witter added to the fun offensively for the Tigers by rushing 39 times for 170 yards and a touchdown for Missouri. He had the final five rushes for the Tigers to set up McCann’s game-winning kick.
”I’m proud and happy for our seniors to go get a chance to now do something that hasn’t been done very many times in college football, go get an eighth win after starting 1-5,” Missouri coach Barry Odom said.
David Williams accounted for three touchdowns for the Razorbacks, who fell to 29-34 overall and 11-29 in the SEC under Bielema. Austin Allen was 14-of-29 passing for 313 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his final collegiate game.
”We just ended up giving up too many plays,” Bielema said.
Witter’s 39 carries were a career best, topping the 31 he had against Tennessee two weeks ago and giving the senior 992 rushing yards for the season – well within reach of his first 1,000-yard rushing season heading into a bowl game.
Missouri: The Tigers entered the game having won their previous five games by an average of 35.4 points per game. That came after blowout losses to South Carolina, Purdue, Auburn and Georgia during their 1-5 start to the season. Missouri fell behind 21-7 in the first quarter on Friday but rallied behind Lock and an offense that gained 696 total yards against a reeling Razorbacks team that’s now lost 10 of its last 14 games dating back to last season.
Arkansas: After missing four games earlier this season with a shoulder injury, Allen appeared healthier than he had in weeks on Friday. His first-half completions of 57 and 65 yards were his two longest of the season, and he topped 300 yards passing for the first time since throwing for 348 yards in a loss to the Tigers last season.
Missouri waits to find out its bowl destination.
The Razorbacks season is finished.
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