Lock leads Missouri in rout of Arkansas
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Three years ago, Drew Lock’s freshman season ended with a dismal performance in a blowout loss to Arkansas in a chilly downpour. A losing season coupled with the retirement of longtime coach Gary Pinkel had the quarterback questioning whether Missouri was the right school for him.
On Friday, only the opponent and the weather was the same. Lock threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more to guide Missouri to a 38-0 victory over Arkansas in his final home game. After a rocky start to his career, Lock has led the Tigers to two straight winning seasons and positioned himself to be a high NFL draft pick, which explained Denver Broncos general manager John Elway’s presence at Friday’s game.
“The best way to put it is it just felt right walking off the field,” Lock said.
Missouri (8-4, 4-4 SEC) held Arkansas (2-10, 0-8 SEC) to just 187 total yards and broke the game open by converting two second-quarter turnovers into 14 points.
Lock completed 16 of 25 passes for 221 yards. He went over 3,000 passing yards for the third straight season. With a bowl game left to play, Lock’s career total of 11,820 passing yards is second in SEC history to Georgia’s Aaron Murray, who threw for 13,166 yards from 2010-13.
“He’s done a heck of a job of being Drew, being what we need him to be and playing really well at a high level,” Missouri coach Barry Odom said. “He left his mark.”
Lock had plenty of help on both sides of the ball against Arkansas. Emanuel Hall caught six passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Larry Rountree carried 29 times for 119 yards to go over 1,000 yards on the season.
Arkansas had no answer. Starting quarterback Ty Storey threw an interception into the chest of linebacker Terez Hall in the second quarter, setting up Missouri’s second touchdown. On the next series, Missouri defensive tackle Jordan Elliott sacked Storey and forced a fumble that Akial Byers recovered in the end zone to give the Tigers a 21-0 lead. Elliott, who entered the game without a sack, racked up three against the Razorbacks.
“I did not think we played well up front,” Arkansas coach Chad Morris said. “We’ve got guys that have been playing those positions all year long. ... Our inability to sustain some blocks was disappointing and put us behind the chains.”
Morris made a change at quarterback in the second quarter, inserting freshman Connor Noland in place of Storey, who is a junior. Storey completed 4 of 7 passes for 24 yards, and Noland was 5 of 17 for 98 yards.
“Connor did some good things,” Morris said. “Thought he got the ball out of his hand, hit some throws that were good to see. Obviously missed a few, but I thought the more he played, he got more comfortable.”
Freshman John Stephen Jones, the grandson of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, took over for the final two series of the game.
Missouri’s most noteworthy player from the state of Arkansas, running back Damarea Crockett, did not play against the Razorbacks for the third straight year. He was suspended in 2016 and was injured for the last two meetings. But three other players from the home of the Razorbacks — Fayetteville — made contributions for the Tigers.
The biggest was Byers, a sophomore defensive end who scored his first career touchdown on a fumble recovery.
“It just came to me,” Byers said. “Good things happen when you run to the ball.”
The fact it came against his hometown team wasn’t lost on him.
“That made it way more special,” Byers said.
Barrett Banister, a freshman walk-on from Fayetteville who has carved out a role as a possession receiver, caught two passes for 12 yards. Backup quarterback Taylor Powell, who replaced Lock in the fourth quarter, completed 1 of 2 passes for 6 yards.
Arkansas: It was a rough debut season for Morris. The Razorbacks posted their fewest wins since going 2-8 in 1952.
“I knew that this was the toughest league in college football, and it definitely did not disappoint,” said Morris, who spent the previous three years as the SMU head coach. “It did exactly what I thought was going to happen. You’ve got to have depth, and you better have some speed.”
Missouri: In an effort to boost sagging attendance, Odom publicly offered to buy tickets to Friday’s game for any fans who wanted to attend. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Missouri took orders for 5,537 tickets, with an estimated cost of $138,425. But heavy rain and temperatures in the 40s no doubt kept fans away as attendance was announced at 52,482 but appeared far smaller than that.
“Weather-wise, it wasn’t perfect, but I am thankful for the folks that were in the stands,” Odom said. “For those that showed up, hats off to you.”
Arkansas: Morris will have plenty of time to put the finishing touches on a promising recruiting class that already has 24 verbal commitments and is ranked No. 12 nationally by Rivals.com.
Missouri: The Tigers will play in their second straight bowl game and their 11th in the last 14 years.