Nov 30, 2019 6:13 AM

Powell, Missouri snap five-game skid with win over Arkansas

Posted Nov 30, 2019 6:13 AM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- In a game started by third- and fifth-string quarterbacks, the outcome was decided by one of their backups. It was appropriate enough for Arkansas and Missouri, two teams facing their longest losing streaks in decades.


Fayetteville High School graduate Taylor Powell entered for injured Connor Bazelak in the second quarter and led Missouri over his hometown Razorbacks 24-14, snapping a five-game skid for the Tigers and furthering Arkansas' spiral to 19 straight SEC losses.


Missouri coach Barry Odom ran around the field after the final whistle, congratulating every player he could find individually. They were all emotional just three days after the NCAA's surprising decision to uphold its bowl ban on the team after a nearly year-long appeals process.


"The mental toughness of creating the noise and controlling the noise between your ears, that's up to you alone," he said. "These guys, they responded, they didn't like it. But at the end of the day, nobody cares. It's what we've got. It was about us."


Powell entered in the second quarter after Bazelak, in his first career start, left after injuring his knee on a scramble. Powell's third pass was a 30-yarder, setting up a field goal to give Missouri (6-6, 3-5) a 10-7 lead. It was the first of three scoring drives he directed.


The three drives would have been enough by themselves.


Arkansas interim coach Barry Lunney Jr. started junior Jack Lindsey, who was only placed on scholarship in August. Lindsey began the year as the fifth-stringer but was pushed into duty after ineffectiveness and injury plagued the position to the point that coach Chad Morris didn't win an SEC game in his season-plus before being fired November 10.


Lindsey completed just two of his first 13 passes, though both went for go-ahead touchdowns. The second score came on the first Arkansas drive of the second half after Greg Brooks Jr. intercepted Powell on the first play after the break. Lindsey, who finished 10 of 26 for 75 yards, began the drive at the Missouri 26, ran for 15 yards and, two plays later, found Grayson Gunter uncovered in the corner of the end zone to give the Razorbacks (2-10, 0-8) their first post-halftime lead against in any game since October 12 against Kentucky.


Two drives later, Powell led Missouri on an 8-play, 84-yard touchdown drive that would ultimately be the game-winner. He added a touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter to former Arkansas wide receiver Jonathan Nance for the final score of the game.


Powell finished 8 of 14 for 105 yards. Fellow Fayetteville High product Barrett Banister had six catches for 60 yards.


"I know what it's like to go back and play your home school," Odom said. "I'm proud of the effort and the focus. It's not easy. It's not easy a lot of times to handle those things."


Arkansas will search for answers for a third straight offseason. The Razorbacks have finished 2-10 for back-to-back years, their worst stretch in school history. They need to find a quarterback after using eight different starters, including five in 2019, over those two seasons. They also need to find a coach as Lunney Jr. isn't expected to be named Morris' permanent replacement.


Lunney Jr., who has been on the Arkansas staff since 2013 with Bret Bielema and was the Razorbacks quarterback in the early and mid-1990s, coached the last two games of the season.


"We obviously didn't play well enough to win. We didn't deserve to win," he said. "But for two weeks, these guys, they were in a very difficult situation, and they very clearly gave everything they had in an effort to win the game tonight. So for that I'm very thankful."


It's also unclear whether Odom will return for a fifth season leading Missouri. He has a 25-25 record after four years and the recent five-game losing streak leaves his job status in jeopardy. He is focused on returning to work Monday, happy with the way his team finished during a trying week that also kept all 23 of Missouri's wins from 2012-13 vacated.


"It wasn't pretty, we all know that, but it was a win and I'll take as many of those as we can get," Odom said. "Wish we had an opportunity to go play in a bowl game somewhere, but they can't take those six from this team."


A QUIET EXIT


Both teams had graduate-transfer quarterbacks begin the season as the starter, with each team's hopes banked on the new face. Only one saw the field in the finale.


Missouri's Kelly Bryant, who dealt with leg injuries for the last month, was unable to go Friday and finished his one season with 2,215 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions. Arkansas' Ben Hicks, who hadn't played since November 2, came in for the final Arkansas drive of the game and completed one pass for two yards, finishing his one year with the Razorbacks with 736 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.


FEW SAW IT


Attendance at War Memorial Stadium on Friday was 33,961, the lowest total for an Arkansas game in its home away from home since 1996. Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville had already achieved its lowest and second lowest attendance figures since 1997 earlier this year.


SICK AND WOUNDED


Arkansas was without 14 players in its last game. Some, like offensive lineman Colton Jackson and linebacker Hayden Henry had pre-existing injuries. Others, including starting safety Kamren Curl, were late scratches. The university had experienced an outbreak of mumps earlier in the week that affected several students, though Arkansas would not comment on the reasons for some of the missing players.


THE TAKEAWAY


Missouri: The Tigers have been a thorn for Arkansas since joining the SEC. Missouri has won the last four meetings and six of the last seven between the two teams.


Arkansas: Arkansas is in the midst of the worst two-year stretch in school history, having finished 2-10 in back-to-back seasons and riding a 19-game SEC losing streak.


UP NEXT


Missouri: Eyes turn to Odom's status as Missouri's postseason ban keeps them from a bowl bid in the winter.


Arkansas: Lunney Jr. is unlikely to be named permanent head coach and the search for a replacement for Morris is entering its third full week.


--- Associated Press ---

Continue Reading St Joseph Post
Nov 30, 2019 6:13 AM
Nebraska loses on last second field goal to No. 17 Iowa 27-24

LINCOLN, Neb. -- It was cold and damp, Iowa had the ball at its 26-yard line with 32 seconds left in regulation in a tie game, and the Hawkeyes' offense hadn't done much since the first quarter.


Instead of being content to play for overtime against border rival Nebraska, coach Kirk Ferentz went for the win Friday.


The Hawkeyes got it when Keith Duncan kicked a 48-yard field goal with one second left, giving No. 17 Iowa a 27-24 victory over Nebraska that leaves the Cornhuskers out of the postseason for a third consecutive season.


"We thought we had a chance if we executed," Ferentz said. "There's some risk and reward involved there. We thought the reward outweighed the risk. At least we came out the right side this time."


The Hawkeyes (9-3, 6-3 Big Ten) beat the Huskers (5-7, 3-6) for a fifth straight year and second year in a row on a late field goal.


Duncan, who walked on with Iowa in 2016, had more to celebrate than just helping the Hawkeyes hold onto the Heroes Game trophy for at least another year. Ferentz announced after the game that he was giving Duncan a scholarship.


"The culmination of all these four years of hard work," said Duncan, who also kicked a 49-yarder against the Huskers and now owns the Big Ten single-season record with 29 made field goals. "These 12 weeks have been really hard for us, just working 100 percent. There's been some setbacks, but we finished here. Team goals will lead to individual goals, and that's where we are today."


Iowa, which saw its 14-point lead wiped out in the third quarter, got the ball back after forcing a Nebraska punt in the final minute. A long Nate Stanley completion to Nico Ragaini was overturned on video review, but Stanley then completed a pair of 22-yard passes to Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Sam LaPorta to bring on the reliable Duncan.


The Huskers called two timeouts before Duncan drilled the winner down the middle and with plenty of distance.


"Every field goal I'm hungry for, especially in a situation like that with tough conditions," Duncan said. "That's why you become a kicker. You've got to be hungry and not scared."


Nebraska, down 24-10 at half, tied it with back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter. Luke McCaffrey entered the game for a play in place of quarterback Adrian Martinez, rolled to his left and hit JD Spielman with a perfect 39-yard TD pass. The Huskers ran on 12 of 13 plays while covering 60 yards on their next drive, converting a fourth-and-6 before Wyatt Mazour ran in from 9 yards.


Smith-Marsette scored on a 45-yard on a reverse run and ran back a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and Tyler Goodson broke a 55-yard TD run as Iowa got out to its lead in the first half.


Iowa had 18 plays for 191 yards in the first quarter but just 131 yards on 38 plays for the remainder of the game. Iowa gained 11 yards in the second quarter and 7 in the third.


Stanley completed 11 of 24 passes for 99 yards, his lowest total since throwing for 86 against Maryland last season. Goodson ran 13 times for a season-high 116 yards.


The Huskers are in their longest bowl drought since 1955-61, but coach Scott Frost is encouraged by the progress he saw during the second half of the season.


"There's a lot of things that needed to get fixed, and I think a lot of those have been addressed," Frost said. "I think when you plant a seed, you don't necessarily see sprouts right away. There's a lot going on underneath the ground before you see things shooting out of it. I know a lot of things have gotten better."


EPENESA'S BIG DAY


Preseason All-America defensive end A.J. Epenesa set career highs with 14 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks in Friday's victory.


"You always love to win this game," Epenesa said. "They joined the Big Ten not too long ago but it's turned into a pretty hard-headed rivalry between the two of us. If it's between whose corn is better, which team you like more or what state you're from, there's a lot of pride on both sides of this. When you can come out and win it, especially in other people's stadium, it adds a little extra to it."


THE TAKEAWAY


Iowa: This was a hard-fought win for the Hawkeyes and one they'll savor because it came against their border rival. Except for the big-play touchdowns, their offense continued to be middling.


Nebraska: The Huskers dropped to 0-6 against Top 25 opponents over two seasons under Frost.


POLL IMPLICATIONS


Iowa will stay in the Top 25 thanks to Duncan's late field goal.


--- Associated Press ---