No. 22 Missouri has tough time holding off UConn


Mizzou blocked punt leads to safety

Connecticut's Justin Wain has his punt blocked in the end zone by Clarence Green, which gives No. 22 Missouri a 2-0 lead.

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Safety Anthony Sherrils' first career interception came at the right time for No. 22 Missouri.

With just under a minute left, Sherrils picked off a pass by Huskies backup quarterback Tim Boyle on a fourth-down, fake field goal attempt that sealed the Tigers' 9-6 win over UConn on Saturday.

"Anthony made a great play," coach Gary Pinkel said. "He has been doing really well. He is an extraordinary athlete that has great speed and acceleration."

Sherrils said the defense expected a fake.

"We were anticipating it," Sherrils said. "We backed up off the line to get a good look at it. The tight end released, and I knew it was a fake."

Sherrils returned the interception 50 yards and also forced and recovered a fumble with 4:26 left in the first half for Missouri (3-0).

"Every week is a week that I look to make a play," Sherrils said. "This week was my week, I guess. It feels good."

UConn, which fell to 2-1, struggled on third down, converting just two of 13 attempts.

"Credit to Missouri and their staff and their players for fighting hard for four quarters," UConn coach Bob Diaco said. "A game like that, it is one play. One play and it's in overtime. One play and it's a win."

UConn quarterback Bryant Shirreffs was 17 of 26 for 156 yards, and ran 14 times for 29 yards. The Huskies were 1 of 3 on fourth-down plays, converting on a 13-yard run by Justin Wain off a fake punt.

Missouri took a 2-0 lead in first-quarter on a safety after Clarence Greene blocked a punt that went out of the end zone.

"It just felt good to put points on the board," Green said. "We haven't had a block on a punt in a while, so me and Brandon Lee said `we're going to have to get one today."

After UConn scored a touchdown to take the lead later in the period, linebacker Kentrell Brothers blocked the extra point.

Charles Harris added three tackles for Missouri, including two for loss and a sack.

Maty Mauk completed 14 of 22 passes for 145 yards and an interception. His 2-yard touchdown run near the end of the third quarter gave the Tigers the lead for good.

Ish Witter made his first career start for Missouri in place of the injured Russell Hansbrough, and carried the 17 times for 54 yards.

Brothers came into the game as the nation's leading tackler and added 10 more to his total. Charles Harris added three tackles for Missouri, including two for loss and a sack.

Missouri was a heavy favorite entering the game, but struggled to move the ball into scoring position.

Mauk said it is a matter of finishing drives.

"We can't come out sluggish," Mauk said. "You can drive all you want and put up yards, but if you're not scoring points, that's what it comes down to."

Missouri opens its Southeastern Conference schedule against Kentucky on Sept. 26 in Lexington.


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