““I give a lot of credit to Missouri, they have a very good football team. I don’t think we played to our capabilities. I wish we would have had a better performance for who we are. But that credit goes to Missouri and their execution today,” UT head coach Matt Campbell said. “I am a little surprised, I thought we (would) execute better early on. I am not surprised that the kids continued to fight.”
To make matters worse for Toledo, UT junior quarterback Phillip Ely went down with a knee injury in the third quarter. Ely was helped off the field and taken to the locker room. Campbell said Ely was still being evaluated and his status for next week should be determined by Monday. Ely finished 17-of-34 for 204 yards and one interception.
Missouri was led by sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk, who completed 21-of-32 passes for 325 yards and five scores to four different receivers.
Missouri initially got on the board on its second drive in the first quarter courtesy of a 16-yard scoring strike from Mauk to Russell Hansbrough. That completed a four-play, 45-yard drive. The two teams then exchanged punts before Toledo struck back on a 38-yard touchdown run by Hunt. The Tigers answered with a five-play, 75-yard drive that was set up by a 45-yard pass play from Mauk to Darius White, who also finished the drive with a seven-yard scoring run.
Toledo missed a great opportunity on Missouri’s next series when senior safety Jordan Haden picked off a Mauk pass and returned it to the Tiger 12-yard line. However, he was stripped by Tiger receiver Bud Sasser. Missouri recovered the fumble, denying Toledo a great opportunity to put more points on the board.
Another Rocket turnover led to Missouri’s next touchdown. Mizzou cornerback Aarion Penton snagged an Ely pass and returned it 38 yards to the Toledo 25-yard line. On the next play Mauk hit Sasser for a 24-yard play to the Rocket one-yard line. Two plays later Mauk ran around left end to make the score 21-7 with 12:43 to play in the half.
On its next drive, Toledo drove the ball to the Missouri five-yard line but came up empty. A penalty and a sack pushed the Rockets back to the 27-yard line. Jeremiah Detmer’s 44-yard field attempt was blocked. It was his first miss after making 15 in a row and only the second in his last 40 attempts.
Missouri made it 28-7 thanks to a short field set up by a 34-yard punt return by Marcus Murphy to the Toledo 39-yard line. The second of two Mauk completions was a 13-yard TD pass to Jimmie Hunt.
Toledo got the ball to start the second half but failed to gain a first down on its first possession. Missouri countered with a 13-play, 85-yard drive to make the score 35-7.
The Rockets would not quit and Hunt scored his second TD of the game from one yard out, set up by his own run of 45 yards on the previous play. Junior Christian Dukes then picked off Mauk on third-and-long at the Missouri 43-yard line. Four plays later, Hunt scored his third TD from one yard out and cut the Tiger lead to 35-21.
Missouri came back quickly, with Mauk hitting Sasser on third-and-seven for a 47-yard gain. Mauk then went right back to Sasser for a 25-yard score down the sideline to push Mizzou’s cushion back to three touchdowns.
“We’ve played a lot of good quarterbacks but Maty Mauk is definitely up there, junior linebacker Chase Murdock said. “He moves well in the pocket, he’s got a good o-line in front of him and he has big receivers to get the ball to.”
Toledo’s quarterback situation, meanwhile, took a hit when Ely went down with an apparent knee injury on the next series. The junior signal-caller crumpled to the ground as he set himself to make a pass. He was helped off the field and did not return to the game.
Hunt caught his second TD pass of the game to close out the scoring for Missouri with 7:35 left. Toledo’s final drive resulted in a 40-yard field goal by Detmer.
The Rockets’ next test will against Cincinnati in a Friday night game at Paul Brown Stadium (home of the Cincinnati Bengals).