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University of Missouri

A Welcome Homecoming

The Tigers best Kentucky for their first Southeastern Conference win.

hundreds of Mizzou football fans in stadium

Truman riles up Tiger fans just before kickoff of the Mizzou-Kentucky Homecoming football game Oct. 27, 2012. Photo by Nicholas Benner

Big plays on defense, a 108-yard rushing day for senior running back Kendial Lawrence and a Homecoming atmosphere paved the way for the Tigers’ first SEC victory. The 33–10 win against Kentucky (1–8, 0–6 SEC) leveled Mizzou’s overall record at 4–4 (1–4 SEC) and kept the team in the hunt for a bowl game.

marching band drum line

The Marching Mizzou drum line carries the beat along the Homecoming parade route. Photo by Nicholas Benner

I just want to win,” Coach Gary Pinkel says. “We needed to win, I don’t care who we play.”

Kentucky opened the game with a drive deep into Mizzou territory before junior defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson stripped the ball from running back Jonathan George and raced to the Wildcat 25-yard line. Four consecutive Lawrence handoffs later, the Tigers took a 7–0 lead and never trailed.

It was quarterback Corbin Berkstresser’s third career start, but a pair of second-half interceptions thrown by the redshirt freshman forced Pinkel to use junior starter James Franklin who was sitting with a knee injury.

Kendial Lawrence runs with football

Missouri running back Kendial Lawrence runs through Kentucky defenders in the second half. Lawrence finished the game with 108 yards on 23 carries. Photo by Nicholas Benner

We had talked about it Thursday that if we got into that situation, we would go with James, just with great restrictions,” says Pinkel, referring to Mizzou’s conservative game plan with the hobbled signal caller.

With a 17–10 halftime lead, Mizzou used its running game to control the clock and wear out the Kentucky defense. In addition to Lawrence’s day – the first 100-yard game for a Mizzou back in the SEC – freshman Russell Hansbrough and sophomore Marcus Murphy each had career highs with 37 and 43 yards, respectively.

A sack and a fumble recovery gave Mizzou the ball at the Kentucky 12-yard line to start the fourth quarter. Murphy used some nifty footwork to change directions and zip into the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown that opened up a 26–10 lead with 14:10 to play.

excited students

Senior Xavier Billingsley, with Homecoming Queen nominee Helena Kooi, reacts after being announced as the 2012 Homecoming King during halftime at the Mizzou-Kentucky game Oct. 27, 2012. Photo by Rachel Coward

When you got guys that are struggling or aren’t fully healthy, you have to go out there and run the ball to be able to relieve those guys,” Lawrence says.

Missouri junior defensive back E.J. Gaines punctuated the win when he picked up a fumble by Kentucky tailback Raymond Sanders III and returned it 13 yards for the game’s final score.

With a 39 degree temperature and an 11 a.m. kickoff, early morning parade spectators lined the Columbian streets with visible breath. Mizzou improves its all-time Homecoming record to 59‐37‐5 and heads to Florida next weekend to take on the Gators in “The Swamp.”

Mizzou football players shake hands

Mizzou wide receiver T.J. Moe shakes hands with wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham at the end of the Mizzou-Kentucky Homecoming game Oct. 27, 2012. Photo by Rachel Coward

More Homecoming 2012:
Former Resident Hall Assistants Reunite After 35 Years
Get the latest Homecoming statistics: Homecoming by the Numbers