COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Call it the revenge of the Fifth Down.
With 6:47 to play Saturday, Colorado's Evan Judge appeared
briefly to cradle a pass that, with a 2-point conversion, would
have tied the game at Missouri. But Tigers cornerback Shirdonya
Mitchell wrestled the ball away as the two men fell to the ground
for an interception that helped the Tigers beat Colorado 17-9 in
the Big 12 opener for both teams.
It was one of several big second-half plays by the defense for
Missouri (3-1). Colorado (3-1) ran up 186 yards and didn't punt in
the first half. The Buffaloes' seven second-half possessions ended
in five punts and two interceptions, as Colorado could muster just
65 total yards over the final two quarters.
"I saw Evan jump up and catch it," quarterback Joel Klatt said
of the crucial play. "I had my hands up in the air and I was
running toward him. I thought it was a touchdown. I don't know what
If the interception was questionable, it hardly matched the
final moments of the 1990 game here, when officials inadvertently
gave Colorado five downs in a late drive, the last of which
resulted in a touchdown and a Colorado win that was crucial to the
Buffaloes' share of the national championship that season.
The defensive showing helped Missouri survive 70 penalty yards --
one negating a long touchdown pass -- three missed field goals and a
relatively lackluster showing for an offense that was averaging 38
points per game. Marcus King led Missouri with nine tackles and had
"I thought in the second half we did a good job of controlling
the line of scrimmage and the running game," Missouri coach Gary
Missouri controlled the ball for 34:25 and frequently drove deep
into Colorado territory. But kicker Joe Tantarelli missed field
goals of 44, 42 and 39 yards. A 60-yard scoring pass late in the
first half was called back when receiver Sean Coffey was called for
offensive pass interference.
Tigers quarterback Brad Smith completed 16-of-25 passes for 189
yards with one touchdown and ran 17 times for 76 yards.
Missouri never trailed, going 80 yards in 12 plays on the game's
first drive. Smith carried three times for 35 yards on the drive,
which ended with Damien Nash scoring from the 3. Nash had 25
carries for 102 yards.
Mason Crosby's 21-yard field goal in the first quarter cut the
Missouri lead. Tantarelli kicked a career-long 45-yard field goal
early in the second quarter to make it 10-3.
Colorado got within a point with 10:16 left in the first half on
Bobby Purify's 4-yard run, but Missouri's James Kinney blocked the
The Tigers made it 17-9 early in the second quarter. On
third-and-7 from the Missouri 49, Smith threw a short pass to
Coffey, who slipped one tackle and deked two other defenders before
diving into the end zone.
Smith's fumble at the Missouri 36 gave Colorado an opportunity
with 10:23 to play, and the Buffaloes drove to the Missouri 8. On
second-and-goal, Klatt threw to the corner of the end zone to
Judge, who was airborne as he clutched the ball to his chest. But
Mitchell scrambled for the ball and appeared to take it away just
before the men hit the ground.
"That's the one that should have made the difference for us,"
Colorado coach Gary Barnett said of the turnover setting up the
drive. "But we get down there and throw a pick, or whatever you
Purify, who entered the week 14th in the nation with a 118-yard
rushing average, gained 81 yards on 22 carries despite missing most
of the third quarter with a sprained left shoulder. He returned in
the fourth quarter, but gained just six yards on eight second-half
Klatt was 18-28 for 171 yards and three interceptions but
struggled in the second half without Purify's input.
"If you take away what they want to do and make them
one-dimensional, it makes the game easier," Missouri safety Nino
Missouri punter Brock Harvey broke his collarbone. It wasn't
clear how long he would be out.