Oh, Henry

COLUMBIA --- It may have taken a while, but

night's game at Faurot Field was what we expected.

Not much of one.

Missouri 58, Murray State 14.

But the real story of this night actually started 22 months ago, Nov. 12, 2011, at Faurot Field.

Missouri vs. Texas.

Missouri sophomore running back Henry Josey went down with a horrific knee injury in that game, one so bad that Texas coach Mack Brown left the opposite sideline to wish Josey the best as he was being carted off the field.

Opposing coaches just don't do that.

But this grew out of the respect for Josey. He entered that game with 1,168 yards rushing, which was No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 5 in the nation.

That knee injury, however, ended Josey's seasons. Yes, seasons, with an S, as he not only missed the rest of the 2011 season but also all of last season.

After a series of operations and more hard work than most of us will do in a lifetime, Josey was back on the field


"I can't wait," Josey said last week. "I'm sure I'll hear the crowd."

He had to. About
6:10 p.m.
, on the third play of the game, Josey took a handoff from James Franklin.

Josey was going in the same direction, south to north, as he did on his last official carry during a game.

He gained 12 yards. It wouldn't have matter if he'd lost 12 yards.

Standing ovation.

"It felt great," Josey said. "I just wanted to be part of the team again, I didn't care about scoring."

But he did. Midway through the third quarter, also heading north, Josey --- showing the same speed he had 22 months ago --- raced 68 yards for a touchdown.

The run was down the right sideline ... and right past the spot where Josey went down.

Oh, Henry.

"I knew nobody was going to catch him," Missouri coach Pinkel said, "and they didn't."

Said a smiling Josey: "I can still run a little bit."

That run put the exclamation point on a 13-carry, game-high 113-yard rushing night for Josey.

Then again, perhaps the exclamation point was still to come.

"In 35 years as a coach," Pinkel said, "I've never called a guy out and given him a game ball, because it's a team sport.

"But the whole team presented him the game ball for his courage and how hard he's worked to come back."

As far the game goes, Division I-AA (some call it Football Championship Subdivision) Murray State was outmatched, although the Racers did lead 14-13 after one quarter in front of a sweat-soaked gathering of 58,038.

"We had a little adversity there in the first quarter and early in the second quarter," Pinkel said, "but I thought we maintained our poise.

"They got us with the quarterback draw a little bit, but we made some good adjustments and battled through it."

The Tigers --- who host Toledo at
2:30 p.m. Saturday

--- scored the game's final 45 points, and led 30-14 at the half and 51-14 after three quarters. They rolled up 694 yards of offense, the second-highest total in school history (744 vs. Western Illinois two years ago).

Franklin, also back from injuries, completed 26-of-38 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns, and Russell Hansbrough rushed for 104 yards and two scores to highlight the charge.

But the night belonged to Josey.

"I'm just blessed to be back in this position," he said, "and I can't wait to keep moving forward."

This time, however, the wait will only be seven days.

Welcome back.