COLUMBIA, Mo. – A nine-play, 75-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter that resulted in a Connor Bazelak-to-Niko Hea two-yard touchdown pass allowed the Missouri Tigers to open up a 10-point lead on the way to a 34-24 victory over the Central Michigan Chippewas.
On that drive, senior running back Tyler Badie, in his first game as the Tigers’ feature back, carried five-straight plays for 47 yards. For the game, he rushed a 25 times for 203 yards, both career highs, and scored two touchdowns – one rushing and one receiving. Late in the game with 1:15 to play and CMU within 31-24, the Tigers were sitting at their own 11-yard line. But Badie broke free for the longest run of his career – 69 yards – to set up sophomore kicker Harrison Mevis for a 44-yard field goal that gave Mizzou its final points.
Trailing 14-7 in the second quarter, Missouri got points on its final two possessions of the half. First, the Tigers tied the score on a 30-yard pass from Bazelak to Badie that capped a 9-play, 65-yard drive. A key play on that drive came on a fourth-and-three at the CMU 32-yard line, when Chippewa defensive back Donte Kent was called for pass interference on wide receiver Keke Chism. Two plays later, Badie was in the end zone.
The defense then forced a punt, and the Tigers took over at their own 30-yard line with 54 seconds left before halftime. It would have been the 15-yard line, but Central Michigan’s Alonzo McCoy was called for a facemask penalty during the punt. Bazelak completed three-of-five passes for 36 yards and with two seconds left, Mevis booted the longest field goal of his career from 53 yards to give the Tigers the lead for good at 17-14.
Bazelak finished the game completing 21-of-31 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns. He completed passes to nine different players.
Missouri didn’t turn the ball over while taking the ball away twice from the Chippewas, on pass interceptions by Jaylon Carlies and Akayleb Evans. Linebacker Blaze Alldredge, the graduate transfer from Rice, had an impressive debut. Six of his team-high 10 total tackles were for loss, including 3.5 quarterback sacks – most by a Tiger in 15 years. All of his sacks came in the second half. He also had a quarterback hurry.
In all, the Missouri defense sacked CMU quarterback Jacob Sirmon nine times.
Penalties played a big part in the game. Missouri only had four for 26 yards, all coming in the fourth quarter. CMU, however, had 10 penalties for 80 yards, several of which prolonged Tiger scoring drives.
A QUICK RECAP
It looked like the Tigers would make it look easy against their visitors from Mount Pleasant, Michigan, when on the opening play of the game, Bazelak through a 63-yard pass on a post-play down the middle to D’ionte “Boo” Smith. On the next play, Badie dashed around the left side for a 12-yard touchdown.
But CMU struck right back. Quarterback Jacob Sirmon, a transfer from the University of Washington, completed four passes for 73 yards on a 75-yard drive that ended with a seven-yard TD pass to JaCorey Sullivan.
They took the lead the next time they had the ball, marching 88 yards on seven plays with running back Lew Nichols lugging it the final 18 yards into the end zone. He finished the game with 19 carries for 135 yards.
Missouri, though, closed the first half strong, scoring on a 30-yard TD pass from Bazelak to Badie, and getting a career-long 53-yard field goal from Mevis just before halftime to take a 17-14 lead.
Missouri started to exert its will, however, in the third quarter. The Tigers had just 19 yards rushing at halftime but ran for 186 yards in the second half. Badie was a big reason why. He toted the ball 17 times for 147 yards in the final two quarters.
Six of Missouri’s nine quarterback sacks came in the second half, too, including 3.5 belonging to Allredge.
Missouri got the only points of the third quarter when sophomore running back Elijah Young scored the first touchdown of his career on a 32-yard run the ended a 61-yard drive.
Central Michigan, though, narrowed the score to 24-21 early in the fourth quarter on a six-yard pass from backup quarterback Daniel Richardson to Sullivan, who caught it in the very back of the end zone. The play was originally ruled out of bounds, but after review, the TD was awarded.
That’s when Badie took over, contributing 47 yards on five-straight carries during a 75-yard scoring drive that gave the Tigers breathing room again at 31-21. The touchdown came on a two-yard pass from Bazelak to Hea.
The teams traded field goals to close out the scoring. Marshall Meeder connected on a 51-yarder with 1:30 to play, and Mevis added a 44-yarder following a 69-yard run by Badie, with just 59 seconds remaining in the game.
- On the first play of the game, sophomore quarterback Connor Bazelak completed a deep post pass to senior D’ionte “Boo” Smith for a gain of 63 yards. It was the second longest pass of Bazelak’s career (longest 69 yards) and the longest reception of Smith’s career. His previous long gain was 17 yards.
- On Central Michigan’s second possession of the game, with the score tied 7-7, the Chippewas were knocking at the Tigers’ door with a third down at the MU 24-yard line. But DE Trajan Jeffcoat caused a 19-yard loss by CMU QB Jacob Sirmon by forcing a fumble that took the ball out of scoring territory and forced a punt. It was the seventh career sack for Jeffcoat, a RS junior from Columbia, S.C.
- The first turnover gained by the Tigers in 2021 came late in the first quarter when RS senior Akayleb Evans, a transfer cornerback from Tulsa, intercepted a Jacob Sirmon pass.
- RS freshman WR Mookie Cooper, a transfer from Ohio State, made his Mizzou debut in the second quarter and got his first reception – a modest two-yard gain. It was the first time he had seen game action since his 2018 high school season at Trinity Catholic in St. Louis.
- With 2 seconds left in the second quarter sophomore K Harrison Mevis drilled a career-long 53-yard field goal after CMU had attempted to ice him with a late timeout. Mevis is now 4-5 in his career on field goals of 50 yards or more. Jeff Jacke also kicked four field goals of 50-or-more yards (nine attempted) from 1988-92. Tom Whelihan (1984-87) holds the record with six (of eight) with a school-record long of 63 yards.
- Early in the third quarter, grad transfer linebacker Blaze Alldredge got his first sack as a Missouri Tiger, dropping Jacob Simon for a loss of seven yards on a blitz up the middle. He wound up with 3.5 sacks, most by a Tiger since Brian Smith had four in 2006. He led the Tigers with 10 tackles, eight of which were solos and six were for loss. He also had a quarterback hurry.
- Later in the same possession, with the Chippewas threatening, DB Jaylon Carlies intercepted Sirmon at the four-yard line. It was the first career interception for the sophomore.
- Sophomore RB Elijah Young scored on a 32-yard dash around the right side with 1:47 left in the third quarter for the first touchdown of his career. That TD allowed MU to stretch its lead to 10 points, 24-14. It was the second longest run of his career.
- Senior RB Tyler Badie had career-high carries (25) and rushing yardage (203). He iced the game with 1:15 to play, when from Missouri’s own 11-yard line, he broke free for a career-long 69-yard run to the CMU 20, setting up a 44-yard FG by Harrison Mevis push the score to 34-24.
- Sophomore TE Niko Hea caught a two-yard scoring pass from Connor Bazelak in the fourth quarter to give Mizzou a 31-21 lead eight just under eight minutes to play. It was his third career TD reception.
- With 1:35 to play, safety Shawn Robinson, a converted quarterback, got his first quarterback sack when he came on a blitz and dumped Jacob Sirmon for a loss of 14 yards.
- On the last play of the game, true freshman Mekhi Wingo got his first career sack (7 yards).
Mizzou will travel to Lexington, Kentucky next Saturday (Sept. 11), for its conference opener against SEC East Division rival Kentucky. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. CDT on 550 KTRS, and the game will be televised by the SEC Network.