3:30 PM ET, October 16, 2004
Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, AUSTIN, TX
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Even Texas coach Mack Brown admits his passing game has hit the skids.
But with Cedric Benson's hard-nosed running, combined with a slew of Missouri (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today) mistakes, the Longhorns (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) were able to shake off a post-Oklahoma hangover Saturday with a 28-20 victory.
Benson rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns as Texas (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) won despite more shaky throwing from Vince Young and Chance Mock, who produced just 58 yards and 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 overcame three fumbles -- he recovered two himself -- to score Texas' last two touchdowns and pound out critical yards in the fourth quarter.
"I knew my number would be called more," Benson said. "We came out playing smash-mouth football trying to send a message."
The Tigers (4-2, 2-1) pulled within 28-20 in the fourth quarter on Brad Smith's 1-yard TD run on fourth down, but missed the extra point when Smith dropped the snap. They could get no closer.
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 2 yards for the game's first touchdown, and the second set up Benson's first TD.
"They only had two drives on us the whole day and a couple of great plays on defense," said Missouri coach Gary Pinkel.
In each of the last five years, Texas has rebounded to win its first game following a loss to Oklahoma. But Brown will face a slew of new questions about his quarterbacks over the next few days.
Young, who struggled in a 12-0 loss to the Sooners, was spectacular early against the Tigers, running for 53 yards on five carries.
He even set up the second score with a 48-yard catch on a reverse pass, his first career reception and second longest of the season for the Longhorns. Later on the same drive, he bounced out of a potential sack to scramble 23 yards for a TD to make it 14-0.
Then it started to unravel.
Missouri tied it quickly 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.
Young was intercepted again when he floated another bad pass into a strong wind, and he was knocked out of the game when he took a hard hit to his chest on that play.
But the Tigers blew a chance to take a lead into halftime.
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 bulled through four tackles to score, making it 21-14.
Young returned to the sideline and appeared ready to play in the second half but Brown stuck with Mock, who also struggled to find receivers and had more success handing off to Benson.
"We brought Cedric and the offensive line up and told them `We're going to put the game on your shoulders," Brown said.
Soon after, Benson battled for tough yards on an 11-play scoring drive that gave the Longhorns a 28-14 lead in the fourth.
Young said he was angry about the play that sidelined him and wanted to get back into the game.
"I'm just upset since the guy was trying to hurt me," Young said. "I wanted to get back in. I was mad."
Mock said he'd be ready to start if called upon next week against Texas Tech.
"I believe I am," Mock said. "I'm a fifth-year senior now. (But) Vince is the starter and he's perfectly capable too."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||8-20||3-12|
|4th Down Conversions||2-4||0-0|
|TD||6:44||BRIAN ROBISON 2 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (DUSTY MANGUM KICK)||0||7|
|TD||0:23||VINCE YOUNG 23 YD RUN (DUSTY MANGUM KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||6:55||SEAN COFFEY 4 YD PASS FROM BRAD SMITH (JOE TANTARELLI KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 66 yards.
|TD||5:26||DAMIEN NASH 33 YD RUN (JOE TANTARELLI KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 33 yards.
|TD||1:37||CEDRIC BENSON 13 YD RUN (DUSTY MANGUM KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 12 yards.
|TD||12:52||CEDRIC BENSON 14 YD RUN (DUSTY MANGUM KICK)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 71 yards.
|TD||5:25||BRAD SMITH 1 YD RUN (MISSED KICK)|
Drive info: 16 plays, 77 yards.