Smith shines in his Faurot Field farewell

Monday, November 14, 2005

The senior quarterback regained his form in the Tigers' victory over Baylor.

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- During Brad Smith's career at Missouri, he's piled up 12,337 yards of total offense. That's more than seven miles.

The Tigers' go-to quarterback carried the load again in a 31-16 victory over Baylor on Saturday that made the school bowl-eligible for only the fourth time since 1983. He scored all three of his team's offensive touchdowns, including a 56-yard jaunt on a risky fourth-and-1 play late in the fourth quarter.

"He did a lot of great things," coach Gary Pinkel said. "That last play, I don't know if you can draw it up better than that."

Smith put a pair of frustrating losses at Kansas and Colorado behind him. In Missouri's first two attempts to qualify for a bowl, he totaled only 54 yards rushing in 33 carries.

Defenses designed to contain his creativity and force him to pass had stuffed the Tigers after he set a school record with 480 yards of total offense in a victory over Nebraska. After rushing for 161 yards on 21 carries, he refused to call it a relief.

"I just go out and play hard every play and try to execute our offense and make plays," Smith said. "Just stay with it, stay consistent and work hard, and it pays off."

The result was so satisfying for the Tigers (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) that the usually restrained Smith exchanged high-fives with fans as he left Faurot Field for the last time on senior day.

"All of our guys were going over there, a lot of the seniors," Smith said. "So I didn't want to be a sour apple."

Smith said he tried not to think about playing his final home game.

"It was there, but I just tried to block it out," he said. "I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't thinking about it at all, but I found a way to keep my focus."

Missouri's gain was Baylor's loss. A second-half comeback fell short for the Bears (4-6, 1-6), who whittled a 24-point deficit to eight behind backup quarterback Shawn Bell, and they'll fall short of bowl eligibility for the 11th straight season.

"Brad Smith got the last laugh in this one," cornerback C.J. Wilson said. "What you have is an athlete making a great play."

Smith became the first player in NCAA history to rush for 8,000 yards and pass for 4,000. He also became the school leader in scoring and tied the school career touchdown record.

Most importantly, to coach Gary Pinkel, Smith led the Tigers to a pair of winning seasons. That's rare at this school, even if his last two seasons haven't quite met expectations.

Last year, Missouri followed up a bowl year with a 5-6 record.

"He'll be looked on as a winner, which is the most important thing," Pinkel said. "Two of the last three years he's quarterbacked this team, they won, they went to bowls.

"You can take all of the other stats and throw them away."

Bell produced all of Baylor's points after entering late in the third quarter. The more mobile Terrance Parks started the previous two games.

"I'm not going to lay it all on Terrance," coach Guy Morriss said. "Everybody played better, for some reason, when we switched quarterbacks."

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