Missouri opens with 62-10 rout of SE Louisiana

Sunday, September 2, 2012
Missouri running back Kendial Lawrence runs past Southeastern Louisiana’s Tyler Stoddard on his way to a 76-yard touchdown run during the first quarter on Saturday. (Jeff Roberson ~ Associated Press)

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Marcus Murphy scored on punt returns of 72 and 70 yards and Zaviar Gooden and Michael Sam fueled a lightning-fast start with early defensive touchdowns in Missouri's 62-10 season-opening rout of Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday night.

Kendial Lawrence ran for a 76-yard score and totaled 121 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns for the Tigers, who led 28-0 after running just 12 plays in their tuneup for next week's SEC debut against No. 6 Georgia. Missouri then stalled for nearly two quarters before turning it back on.

Murphy, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound sophomore tailback, matched a 47-year-old school record with two scoring returns and totaled 180 yards on five punt returns. He added 32 yards on five carries.

Nathan Stanley threw a late 21-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Smiley for Southeastern Louisiana, which is just 8-45 on the road since resuming football in 2003, including 13 consecutive losses. The Lions, picked to in the middle of the pack of the FCS Southland Conference under new coach Ron Roberts, left Hurricane Isaac behind on Friday and ran into its remnants while getting soaked in a downpour in the second quarter.

The vast majority of the 62,173 people in attendance were clad in yellow ponchos. The paid attendance total was about 8,000 shy of a sellout. Still, that was an attendance record for Southeastern Louisiana, which plays its home opener against Savannah State next week.

Missouri’s Marcus Lucas, left, congratulates Jimmie Hunt on his 10-yard touchdown catch during the third quarter against Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday. (L.G. Patterson ~ Associated Press)

Heralded freshman Dorian Green-Beckham had a 29-yard sideline catch in the third quarter for Missouri, which has won five in a row dating to last season's strong finish in its final Big 12 season. The Tigers have won their last 12 openers.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel left his starters in until late in the third quarter, no doubt displeased after a 207-yard first quarter was followed by 53 yards, two personal fouls and no points in the second. Stanley was 11 for 13 for 99 yards to end the half, and Southeastern Louisiana capitalized on a facemask call against Kony Ealy to snap the shutout on Seth Sebastian's 31-yard field goal to end the half.

The two-touchdown game was the first for the Missouri defense since 2006 at Texas Tech.

Gooden skirted the sideline on a 20-yard interception return on Southeastern Louisiana's second snap to make it 14-0, also giving him a pick in three straight games. Ealy's sack and forced fumble of Stanley set up an easy 7-yard fumble recovery and score for Sam that made it 28-0 with 7:19 to go in the first quarter.

Missouri backup quarterback Corbin Berkstresser threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jimmie Hunt and ran for a 1-yard score after replacing James Franklin late in the third quarter.

The only other time Missouri had two scoring returns in a game was in 1965, when Johnny Roland returned a punt and Ray Thorpe a kickoff in a 14-14 tie against UCLA.

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