Missouri beats Florida on 2-point conversion in OT 24-23

Nov 20, 2021, 3:07 AM | Updated: 6:39 pm
Missouri running back Tyler Badie, right, scores a touchdown during overtime of an NCAA college foo...

Missouri running back Tyler Badie, right, scores a touchdown during overtime of an NCAA college football game against Florida, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak heard boos from the home fans as he trotted to the sideline after fruitless drives Saturday. It was nothing but cheers after he lofted a 2-point conversion pass to Daniel Parker Jr. to lift the Tigers to a 24-23 overtime victory over Florida.

“I’m proud of Connor,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “He takes a lot of criticism, he takes a lot of boos, but when we needed him, he stepped up.”

The Tigers (6-5, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) drew within a point on Tyler Badie’s 13-yard touchdown run, and Drinkwitz elected to go for 2 rather than send the game to a second overtime with a PAT kick.

Last week, Drinkwitz benched Bazelak for the last drive of a victory over South Carolina after he threw his second interception. Missouri fans sounded eager to see backup Brady Cook throughout Saturday’s game, but Drinkwitz stuck with Bazelak. The play-action action pass was designed to go to Badie in the right flat, but when he was covered and so was the second option, Bazelak turned to his left and released the pass to Parker just before getting hit.

Bazelak completed 15 of 26 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. Badie rushed 27 times for 146 yards.

“He showed a lot of grit and passion for the game,” Badie said of Bazelak. “He came out victorious, too. The last play, the ball was in his hand and he delivered for our team.”

Florida (5-6, 2-6 SEC) got the ball first in overtime, and Emory Jones caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Trent Whittemore on a trick play to give the Gators a brief lead. Jones completed 20 of 32 passes for 261 yards and a touchdown.

“That’s our seventh straight loss in one-possession games,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said. “That’s on us as coaches to create the mental toughness for the guys to make sure we have the right guys in the right position to make a play when the game’s on the line.”

Missouri entered the game with the nation’s 118th-ranked defense, and Florida had yielded 92 points in its last two games. No matter. The defenses dominated in a stingy battle of field position and field goals. Missouri led 9-6 at halftime on three Harrison Mevis field goals.

Florida finally broke the touchdown drought on its first drive of the second half. Jones hit Jacob Copeland on a 49-yard pass to set up a Dameon Pierce 2-yard scoring run. Missouri answered early in the fourth quarter when Bazelak connected with tight end Niko Hea for a 41-yard touchdown.

Missouri missed a chance to take the lead with 1:04 left in regulation when Mevis — who had made 17 of 18 field-goal attempts this season — pushed a 46-yarder wide right. Florida responded by running the ball three straight times and punted. Mullen said he called a draw on first down to take advantage of Missouri playing the pass, but when Nay’Quan Wright slipped in the backfield and lost 4 yards, he opted to run out the clock rather than throw the ball.

In overtime, Drinkwitz opted to put faith in his quarterback to win the game.

“Everybody has the right to their express their opinions,” Drinkwitz said, acknowledging the booing of Bazelak, who has thrown 10 interceptions this season. “These young men are playing as hard as they possibly can. They’re not perfect. None of us are. The No. 1 quarterback requirement is: Ignore the noise. You can have one of the worst games you ever had, but with two minutes left, you’ve got to be a rock and you’ve got to believe in yourself. Connor’s doing that.”


Badie is the SEC’s leading rusher with 1,385 yards, and he’s not bad as a play-caller either. Drinkwitz said Badie suggested the call on a first-and-25 play that resulted in the touchdown pass to Hea. Badie was a decoy on the play.

“I said, ‘No, that’s a crazy idea,’ ” Drinkwitz said. “But we called it, and it hits for a touchdown.”


Last year, Missouri and Florida played on Halloween in a game marred by a halftime brawl. After that game, Mullen appeared in his postgame press conference dressed as Darth Vader. This season, Drinkwitz concluded his postgame press conference by pulling up his hood, hoisting a light saber and saying, “May the force be with you.”


Florida: With the Gators’ fourth straight SEC loss, the speculation about coach Dan Mullen’s job security will grow even louder. Florida is 2-9 in its last 11 games against Power 5 opponents. Mullen said he’s met with athletic director Scott Stricklin to discuss the future of the program.

“We had meetings last week about what direction we needed to go in the future with assistant coaches and who we’re going to bring in and who the candidates are and changes we need to look to make,” Mullen said.

Missouri: The Tigers secured bowl eligibility for the second time in Eli Drinkwitz’s two-year tenure as coach. Missouri had higher hopes than a six-win season, but after losing its first three SEC games, Drinkwitz deserves credit for keeping the team together and salvaging the season.


Florida: The Gators finish the regular season at home against Florida State on Nov. 27.

Missouri: The Tigers play at Arkansas on Friday in their regular-season finale.


More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25.

Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - The tarp covers the infield as rain falls before a scheduled baseball game between the New Y...
Associated Press

Rainy season: Guardians postpone celebration due to forecast

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Guardians might as well keep umbrellas in their bat rack. Cleveland was forced to postpone a celebration and flag-raising ceremony Tuesday to honor its AL Central title before the opener of a three-game series against Tampa Bay due to a rainy weather forecast. The pregame pageantry has been pushed back until […]
16 hours ago
United States' Weston McKennie controls the ball during the international friendly soccer match bet...
Associated Press

US World Cup worries grow, 0-0 draw vs Saudis in last tuneup

The United States will limp into the World Cup, and not just because of all the Americans’ injuries. The U.S. played a 0-0 draw against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday night at Murcia, Spain, that was somewhere between unimpressive and alarming. After managing no shots on goal in Friday’s 2-0 loss to No. 24 Japan, the […]
16 hours ago
Attorney Alexandra Benevento, center, speaks with reporters during a news conference announcing a c...
Associated Press

Sex abuse allegations spread against cheerleading industry

Sprawling allegations of abuse against cheerleaders reached Tennessee on Monday in a case that escalates the accusations facing some of the sport’s top institutions. An adult coach sexually assaulted teenage boys at Premier Athletics, according to allegations in a federal lawsuit filed in Memphis that is similar to a previous complaint against Rockstar Cheer in […]
2 days ago
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge looks out before a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox Sunday, S...
Associated Press

MLB playoff primer: Things to know as postseason nears

Major League Baseball’s postseason has a little more heft this season. The playoffs are rapidly approaching, with the final regular season games set for Oct. 5. The postseason begins two days later with a field of 12 teams — up from last year’s 10 — and includes a best-of-three format for the opening wild-card round. […]
2 days ago
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (3) strips the ball from New York Giants wide receiver Ster...
Associated Press

Veteran Giants receiver Sterling Shepard has torn ACL

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Veteran wide receiver Sterling Shepard tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on the New York Giants’ final offensive play in their loss to the Dallas Cowboys, coach Brian Daboll said Tuesday. Daboll had indicated after Monday night’s game that the injury to New York’s leading receiver was […]
2 days ago
Stephen F. Austin safety JaTerious Evans brings down the Warner quarterback for a sack during an NC...
Associated Press

‘Whoa, 98-0’: Coach of team on end of huge loss OK with it

Two days after his Warner University football team lost 98-0 to Stephen F. Austin in one of the most lopsided games of all time, Dialleo Burks channeled his inner P.T. Barnum. Like the 19th-century circus impresario once said, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. It was in that vein that Burks recalled a conversation […]
2 days ago
Missouri beats Florida on 2-point conversion in OT 24-23