No. 21 Missouri beats Miami, Ohio, 17-6
Miami of Ohio gave No. 21 Missouri a scare. Not bad for Don Treadwell's debut as coach.
James Franklin ran for one touchdown and passed for the clinching score in his first career start, helping the Tigers open with a 17-6 victory over the stubborn RedHawks on Saturday. The loss represented progress for a school that lost by 38 points at Missouri last fall.
Treadwell filled in as head coach for two games last fall at Michigan State when Mark Dantonio was recovering from a heart attack before taking the top job at his alma mater. He didn't think he was overwhelmed at all.
''I think I did a pretty good job staying in the moment,'' Treadwell said. ''I wanted to make sure I did a good job in the big picture of game management, keeping our coaching staff locked in, keeping our players locked in.
''To be honest, I'll probably think about it more as I'm sitting on the bus on the way back.''
Miami of Ohio has a week off before another nonconference game at Minnesota on Sept. 17. The opener, a game the RedHawks could have won, is a confidence builder.
''For sure,'' quarterback Zac Dysert said. ''We could have executed better on a couple more plays, but we definitely had a shot.''
E.J. Gaines had an end zone interception at the end of the half for Missouri, which whipped the RedHawks 51-13 in their final pre-Big 12 tuneup last season but had their struggles on both sides of the ball in 90-degree heat. Three of their first four possessions ended quickly with punts for an offense that averaged 30 points last season, and Miami moved the ball with some success.
Miami recovered last fall to win the Mid-American Conference, and entered Treadwell's debut on a six-game winning streak. The RedHawks trailed 10-6 after Erik Finklea's 10-yard run late in the third quarter.
''Kind of disappointing,'' Finklea said. ''We should have gotten into the end zone a couple times.''
Missouri, which had been around a 20-point favorite, answered on the first play of the fourth quarter. Marcus Lucas' 10-yard catch was his first college touchdown and in his first start as the fill-in for injured Jerrell Jackson.
Dayonne Nunley's interception and 5-yard return of Franklin's overthrown pass gave Miami possession at the Missouri 19 and set up Finklea's score. Those were the two biggest plays of the game for Miami of Ohio.
Down by 11, Miami ran out of downs at the Missouri 30 midway through the fourth quarter. Dominique Hamilton recovered Dysert's fumble with 1:49 left.
Gaines' pickoff halted a 67-yard drive near the end of the first half with Missouri up 10-0.
''The momentum shift stuns you,'' Treadwell said. ''Kind of like a boxer, you get that uppercut but you don't go down.''
Two Missouri defensive players left with injuries. Linebacker Will Ebner sustained a high left ankle sprain in the first quarter and end Jacquies Smith dislocated his left elbow in the third quarter.
Miami of Ohio center JoJo Williams left with a slight concussion in the second half.
Franklin's 5-yard run up the middle capped a 76-yard drive late in the first quarter.
The RedHawks' new kicker had a rough debut. Sophomore Mason Krysinski was wide left on a 41-yard field goal attempt in the first half and the extra point kick partially blocked after Finklea's score.
''Nothing can take the place of experience,'' Treadwell said. ''You really never know until you put them in a live game. But we're hoping like anything else that most improvements happen between the first and second game.''