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Oklahoma State upsets Missouri 38-33 in Liberty Bowl thriller

Missouri and Oklahoma State faced off New Year's Eve at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee. (Mark Slavit/KRCG 13)

Missouri and Oklahoma State provided 51,587 fans Saturday afternoon at the Liberty Bowl with a classic worthy of a postseason game.

The Cowboys stopped the Tigers in the waning moments of a 38-33 win at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

Facing a fourth and one at the OSU 10, Missouri senior quarterback Drew Lock called his own number and was stopped just short off the line to gain. Lock played one of his best games of the season, completing 23-38 for 373 yards and three touchdowns.

Sophomore running back Larry Rountree had 27 carries for 204 yards, the second most in Liberty Bowl history.

Missouri went three plays and out to begin the game, perhaps trying to shake off the rust from not having played in a month.

That lack of game action though did not affect Oklahoma State. The Cowboys went 80 yards in 11 plays, capped off by a 30-yard Taylor Cornelius strike to Dillon Stoner.

Missouri responded and drove deep inside Oklahoma State's territory. Facing a third and goal from the 7 yard line, senior quarterback Drew Lock laced a ball into the arms of wide receiver Jalen Knox near the back of the end zone. But a Cowboys' defensive back dislodged the ball from the freshman's hands, and the Tigers settled for a 24-yard Tucker McCann field goal.

Two Oklahoma State drives and from Missouri ended in punts. Mizzou's first drive of the second quarter had a much different result. The Tigers took over possession at their 3 yard line, their backs against the end zone. Fueled by a heavy dose of Larry Rountree, Mizzou moved the ball at will. On third and goal from the Cowboys 5 yard line, Lock found freshman wide receiver Dominic Gicinto open and connected with him for the first Missouri touchdown on the afternoon.

The lead lasted 2:18. Oklahoma State found its hurry-up offense again, marching 65 yards in just nine plays. Cornelius threw a touchdown pass to Tyron Johnson in the corner of the end zone, putting the Cowboys back in the lead at 14-10.

Missouri continued to open up its offense on the ensuing possession. Aided by plays of 25 and 23 yards by Gicinto and Rountree, respectively, Lock set up the offense at the Oklahoma State 16. He then threaded the needle on a pass to tight end Kendall Blanton as he was falling to the turf. A missed Tucker McCann point-after-touchdown gave the Tigers a 16-14 lead going into the halftime locker room.

The second half started all Cowboys. A touchdown drive put Oklahoma State back in front following a 9-yard Tylan Wallace reception in the end zone. That momentum continued on the first Missouri play of its opening second-half possession. Knox was stripped of the ball, and the Cowboys recovered at the Missouri 26 yard line. Three Chuba Hubbard rushes later, the Cowboys went up by two possessions for the first time all game, 28-16.

The Tigers shook off the turnover and drove their way deep into Cowboy territory, but couldn't find the end zone. A Tucker McCann 26-yard field goal trimmed the deficit to 28-19.

The Cowboys went for the jugular, attacking Missouri's corners seemingly every play. And it worked. Cornelius tied a Liberty Bowl record with his fourth touchdown pass of the day, a 46-yard rainbow to Tyron Johnson. It got worse.

Missouri couldn't convert a fourth down from the Oklahoma State 48, giving the Cowboys and chance to bury the Tigers. Instead, Cam Hilton picked off Cornelius at the Missouri 12, the first turnover of the game for the Cowboys.

One play, touchdown. Lock threw a bomb to Johnathon Johnson, who took the reception to the end zone for an 86-yard score. Mizzou head coach Barry Odom called a timeout to rethink a two-point conversion and opted to go for the PAT. McCann knocked it through, putting Missouri within nine at 35-26.

If there was any doubt of a momentum shift, Hilton answered all questions on the Cowboys' next possession. Just before Cornelius was forced out of bounds near the Missouri 40 yard line, he heaved a ball to the end zone, only to have the Mizzou safety nab his second interception of the game.

Larry Rountree continued his huge afternoon, taking an option pitch from Lock and sprinting 55 yards to the south end zone. Missouri came from 16 down to cut the deficit to 35-33.

Oklahoma State tried to hand Missouri the lead after failing to convert a fake punt inside its 35. But Missouri couldn't capitalize on the field position, and McCann attempted a 42-yard field goal. It was blocked.

The Cowboys then took their turn and couldn't find the end zone. Oklahoma State settled for a 27-yard field goal with just 5:54 to play in the game, leading 38-33.

Missouri controlled the clock on its final possession, converting a key fourth down and making their way to the Cowboys 10 yard line. Unable to stop the Tigers most of the second half, Oklahoma State's defense made a play when it counted, stopping Lock short of a first down.

Missouri finished the season 8-5, 4-4 in SEC play.


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