The Mizzou faithful who made the holiday trek to celebrate Tiger football postseason play enjoyed a Texas-size tailgate and black-and-gold brotherhood. They came to honor their Tigers, who had turned around the regular season in dramatic fashion, coming back from a 1–5 start to finish 7–6. Unfortunately, the squad couldn’t overcome its mistakes and fell 33-16 to the Texas Longhorns Dec. 27, 2017, in the Texas Bowl at Houston’s NRG Stadium.
Tiger fans from far, wide and nearby — MU boasts more than 12,000 alumni in the Lone Star State — made merry at the Mizzou Alumni Association pregame tailgate in the adjacent NRG Center. Truman the Tiger, Marching Mizzou, the Golden Girls and several guest speakers pumped up the crowd before kickoff.
On the field, however, the Tigers couldn’t recover from four turnovers and nine penalties costing 89 yards in a game that was much closer than the final score indicates.
“I didn’t think we were tight,” said Coach Barry Odom, BS ’99, M Ed ’04. “I thought we were anxious to go play. We did a couple of uncharacteristic things. And then we didn’t run the ball nearly effectively enough.”'
Texas capitalized on a string of Missouri penalties to open a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. But the Tigers answered with a five-play, 50-yard drive capped by a four-yard scamper from senior running back Ish Witter (Tampa, Florida) to pull Mizzou to within seven. Witter’s 57 yards on the ground in Texas gave him 1,000 this season. He ends his career with 2,418 yards, the ninth-most in school history.
Witter wasn’t the only Tiger to finish the season strong at the Texas Bowl:
Senior wide receiver J’Mon Moore (Missouri City, Texas) caught four passes for 42 yards. He pulled down a pass in 30 straight games, the 17th-longest streak in the nation.
Senior defensive end Jordan Harold (St. Louis) tallied a career-high 3.5 tackles for loss in the game. Among those was one sack, his first since the second game of the season against South Carolina.
Sophomore linebacker Cale Garrett (Kearney, Missouri) broke the 100-tackle plateau on the year with 12. His 104 tackles are the most for a Mizzou defender since Kentrell Brothers posted a national-best 152 in 2015.
Sophomore wide receiver Johnathon Johnson (Memphis, Tennessee) tied the Texas Bowl record for longest reception and scoring a TD with his 79-yarder. It set the Mizzou bowl record for longest scoring play.
The pass to Johnson came early in the second half from junior quarterback Drew Lock (Kansas City, Missouri), a big play that pulled the score close (21-13). Lock, who holds the SEC single-season record for touchdown passes, threw for 3,000 yards during the 2017 campaign. Alas, his pinpoint strike to Johnson was the last time Mizzou found the end zone at the Texas Bowl.
Despite the final score, Mizzou Alumni Association members in attendance took it all in stride as they celebrated with friends and family.
“This event is great,” said Ray Boccardi, who earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from MU in 1990. “We’re with fellow Mizzou people. How much better can it get.”
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