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Lock, offense propel Missouri in homecoming victory over Memphis

Mizzou took the field Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium before its game against Memphis. (Greg Dailey/KRCG 13)

A game that had several Mizzou fans nervous turned out to be a laugher.

Coming off a three-game losing streak, Missouri pounded Memphis 65-33 Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium in the 107th Homecoming Game.

Missouri's defense looked to improve off four consecutive games allowing at least 37 points. The first Memphis drive, the home Tigers forced a punt after yielding an initial first down. But it wasn't the Missouri offense which made the first big play of the game. Jerney Jones broke through the Memphis protection and blocked a punt, setting up senior quarterback Drew Lock and company at the Memphis 27.

Missouri wasted little time. A Lock 19-yard run took Missouri inside the Memphis 10-yard line. Larry Rountree capped the drive with a 2-yard rushing touchdown.

A welcome sighting to the Missouri Tiger faithful, the defense stepped up with a big play. Cornerback Christian Holmes disrupted a screen pass by Memphis quarterback Brady White, caught the deflection and sprinted to paydirt. Holmes returned the intercepted pass 42 yards, and Missouri led 14-0, fewer than six minutes into the game.

A Memphis three-and-out meant the Missouri offense would take the field again. Lock connected with freshman wide receiver Jalen Knox for a 41-yard gain down the west sideline. Three plays later, junior running back Damarea Crockett raced into the end zone from the 14 yard line. Missouri led 21-0 at the 5:55 mark in the first quarter.

Memphis did not go away quietly after a slow start. The visiting Tigers rattled off 17 consecutive points, mostly due to a steady diet of runs from tailback Patrick Taylor.

After seeing their lead narrowed to just a four-point margin in the early portion of the second half, Lock and the Tigers broke out in a big way. He found Albert Okwuegbunam over the middle on a 58-yard pass, and the sophomore tight end took care of the rest, waltzing into the end zone. Following a missed extra point by Tucker McCann, Missouri held on to a 27-17 lead.

The ensuing Memphis drive was cut short after Adam Sparks picked off White's pass, giving Missouri the ball at the visitors' 44 yard line.

As he did the drive before, Lock threw a beautiful throw behind the defense, this time to Knox. The 44-yard touchdown pass put Missouri in front 34-17. Missouri marched down the field on its next offensive possession with Rountree rushing for 49 yards, of which the final two gave Missouri its sixth touchdown of the half.

Memphis came away with a field goal before the end of the half, but left far too much time on the clock for the Missouri offense. The home Tigers' drive concluded with a 47-yard touchdown throw to Okwuegbunam. The halftime score had Mizzou in front 48-20.

The visiting Tigers found the end zone on their first drive of the second half, but they could not find a way to keep Missouri out. Lock threw a 23-yard toss to Okwuegbunam, who scored his third touchdown of the day.

Speaking of scoring three touchdowns, Larry Rountree followed suit on Missouri's next drive. He took a handoff 59 yards to the house, extending the lead to 62-27 near the end of the third quarter.

Drew Lock finished the game with a line of 23-29, 350 yards and four touchdowns.

Missouri improved to 4-3 (0-3) on the year, while Memphis fell to 4-4 (1-3). Missouri hosts Kentucky at 3 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

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