Missouri's players celebrate the 28-24 win over Arkansas in the final game of the season on Friday in Columbia, (University of Missouri)

COLUMBIA – The first half of Missouri’s final game of the season Friday against Arkansas looked way too familiar for those who have suffered through the Tigers’ frustrating season.

The Tigers were losing 24-7 and appeared to be going nowhere other than to their ninth loss.

But after coach Barry Odom described later as stirring halftime speeches from Drew Lock, Charles Harris and Terry Beckner Jr., the Tigers went out and played the final 30 minutes like they had not played all season.

They scored 21 unanswered points, made two key fourth-down stops on defense in the closing minutes and pulled off a 28-24 upset over the Razorbacks.

The rally from 17 points down was the largest halftime deficit the Tigers have ever overcome to win a game in school history. The only greater comeback by the Tigers to win a game was a 21-point rally against South Carolina in the 2005 Independence Bowl, but they only trailed by 14 at the half in that game.

“It was awesome to listen and I wish I could have recorded it, just listening to them,” Odom said.

Added Harris, “It was a matter of coming together and saying that we would come back. We were going to win this game. The adjustment was more so mentally on the players than physically in the game. At halftime I told the guys that 20 years from now, no one wants to look back and think of everything they should have done. I told them to buckle down and get the win.”

The rally began on a 2-yard touchdown run by Nate Strong with 11:53 to go in the third quarter, which capped a nine play, 63-yard drive.

Lock, playing his best half of the season, then hooked up with Jonathan Johnson on a 67-yard touchdown pass to finish off a 96-yard drive which included converting a fake punt. That pulled Missouri within 24-21 with 2:07 left in the third quarter.

Another long drive, this one lasting nine plays and covering 81 yards, put Missouri in front early in the fourth quarter when Strong scored again, this time on a 1-yard run with 12:48 left in the game.

The win was not secured, however, until Aarion Penton intercepted an Arkansas pass in the end zone on fourth down and goal at the Missouri 5-yard line with 7:12 to go, and another fourth down stop, this time on fourth and goal from the 20, with 54 seconds left. Marcell Frazier came up with the big play, sacking Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen.
Missouri’s defense kept Arkansas scoreless on their final six possessions.

The rally let the Tigers finish the season with a 4-8 record,2-6 in the SEC, and gave them some momentum going into the off-season.

Lock completed 16 of 26 passes for 268 yards with no interceptions, with 212 of the yards coming in the second half. Strong, filling in for suspended running back Damarea Crockett and an injured Ish Witter, gained 52 yards on 17 carries while J’Mon Moore had six receptions for 135 yards.


Mizzou Post-game audio: Barry Odom https://shar.es/18WfCe