Tigers take no solace in close loss

Monday, October 18, 2004

AUSTIN, Texas -- Missouri coach Gary Pinkel was not impressed that his Tigers played No. 9 Texas close on Saturday before losing 28-20.

Missouri pulled within 28-20 in the fourth quarter and had driven 77 yards in 16 plays with a chance to tie, but a sack of quarterback Brad Smith and three straight incomplete passes gave the ball back to Texas, effectively ending the game and dropping Missouri (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) into a tie with Nebraska atop the Big 12 North.

"You don't walk around and say, 'Well, we played Texas pretty good' and feel good about yourself," Pinkel said. "You draw from it later. But that locker room is a sad place right now. They're as upset as I've ever seen my players. And you know what? That's good."

But Pinkel did acknowledge that the Tigers did some things well.

"They only had two drives on us the whole day and a couple of great plays on defense," he said.

For his part, Texas coach Mack Brown was glad Cedric Benson's running made up for the Longhorns' lousy passing game.

Benson rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns as Texas (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) won despite Vince Young and Chance Mock passing for only 58 yards and throwing two interceptions.

"We cannot (pass) it any worse than we did today, and we won," Brown said of a team that came in ranked No. 102 nationally in passing. "For us to throw that poorly and win says something about the spirit of this club."

Benson fumbled three times -- he recovered two himself -- to score Texas' last two touchdowns and got critical yards in the fourth quarter.

Smith led the Tigers with 185 yards passing and one touchdown as the Tigers outgained Texas 358-299 in total yards. But he also threw two costly interceptions.

Texas defensive end Brian Robison returned the first interception 2 yards for the game's first touchdown, and the second set up Benson's first TD.

Young, who struggled in last week's 12-0 loss to the Sooners, ran for 53 yards on five carries early in the game, and set up the second score with a 48-yard catch on a reverse pass. He finished the drive with a 23-yard TD to make it 14-0.

Missouri tied it as Smith hit Sean Coffey with a 3-yard TD pass and Damien Nash ran 33 yards untouched to score after Young threw the first of his two first-half interceptions.

But then the Tigers made their own costly mistake.

Missouri moved the ball to the Texas 27, and went for it on fourth-and-5 instead of trying a 44-yard field goal for a potential 17-14 lead. Smith's pass was intercepted by Aaron Ross, who returned it 64 yards to the Missouri 12. Two plays later, Benson scored to make it 21-14.

Missouri players didn't care that they had come close to beating Texas.

"I don't think there is a word to describe how bad I feel right now," said Shirdonya Mitchell, who had an interception and now has four for the season. "We had a chance to win the game and we didn't pull it off. I just feel terrible right now."

Offensive lineman Scott Paffrath was also upset.

"To have 'em on the ropes, and have a team that is beatable," Paffrath said. "We take the No. 9 team down to the wire. We're a good team too. We've got to start believing that we're a good team and start finishing games like these."

Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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