Missouri folds at finish of 31-27 loss to Syracuse

Missouri folds at finish of 31-27 loss to Syracuse

Credit: UPI

Missouri Tigers Will Ebner stops Syracuse Orangemen Jerome Smith on a short gain in the first quarter at Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri on November 17, 2012. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

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by R.B. FALLSTROM

AP

Posted on November 17, 2012 at 9:39 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 16 at 9:50 PM

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- After folding at the finish of the home finale, Missouri needs a win at No. 9 Texas A&M to become bowl eligible for the eighth straight season.

As if that's not enough of a challenge, quarterback James Franklin's status is iffy again, too.

"I've been doing this for a long time and I've never seen a quarterback have all the things happen to him physically that's happened to him," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said after a 31-27 loss to Syracuse on Saturday night. "It's extremely frustrating. I feel bad for him."

Franklin missed spring practice with a shoulder injury and has been limited to seven starts by shoulder and knee injuries.

Don't even ask about Sheldon Richardson, the star defensive tackle who did not dress after multiple reports he had been suspended for academic reasons.

Pinkel had a quick "no" when asked about Richardson's status going forward, and another quick "no" when asked whether the defense that collapsed in the fourth quarter missed Richardson.

"Right now, we are just going to reflect on this and get ready for next week," wide receiver Jimmie Hunt said.

Syracuse's surge spoiled effective play from backup quarterback Corbin Berkstresser and another strong game from Kendial Lawrence. Berkstresser produced 10 points after subbing for Franklin and Lawrence had 119 yards on 27 carries with a touchdown for his fifth 100-yard game of the year.

Missouri (5-6) failed to follow up on a 51-48 overtime victory at Tennessee and has not won consecutive games this season. Going to College Station, Texas, for the finale against a school that won at top-ranked Alabama appears daunting even though the Tigers have won three of their last four at Texas A&M.

"Well, it's a difficult loss, but you've got to get up and get going," Pinkel said. "Just wake up and go. We're obviously playing a very, very good team that's on a roll."

Ryan Nassib threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Alec Lemon with 20 seconds to go, capping a 21-point fourth quarter for Syracuse.

Lemon had 12 receptions for 244 yards and two scores, including a 13-yard catch that tied it at 17 earlier in the fourth. After trailing 17-3 early, the Orangemen (6-5) followed up on a 45-26 upset of previously unbeaten Louisville a week earlier and became bowl eligible for the second time in three seasons.

Andrew Baggett's 46-yard field goal with 1:52 to play had put Missouri, minus injured quarterback James Franklin, up by three.

Nassib was 26 for 40 for 385 yards and two touchdowns, setting a school career record for yards passing. He had entered the game only 6 yards shy of the mark of 8,466 yards set by Marvin Graves from 1990-93.

All three of Syracuse's scoring drives in the fourth quarter, including an 8-yard run by Jerome Smith that tied it at 24 with 5:33 to go in the fourth quarter, lasted less than two minutes.

The Orangemen piled up 508 yards and ended Missouri's 18-game winning streak against non-conference opponents, the school's best in the modern era, dating to a loss to New Mexico in the 2005 home opener.

Franklin threw touchdown passes on the first two drives and was 17 for 23 for a season-best 279 yards. He watched from far down the sideline as Berkstresser went 2 for 2 for 65 yards that produced Lawrence's TD run for the lead.

Baggett's 46-yard field goal tied his career best, capitalizing on an interception by Randy Ponder off a deflected pass. Missouri has forced a turnover in 29 consecutive games.

Dorial Green-Beckham broke free for a 70-yard score on a screen pass on the fourth snap of the game and Hunt scored on a 30-yard reception in the first quarter.

Syracuse cut the deficit to 17-10 near the end of the half on a 1-yard run by Prince-Tyson Gulley.

Green-Beckham was untouched on a screen pass on the fourth snap, a 70-yard jaunt. After Syracuse settled for a field goal when Lemon whiffed on a pass that went between his legs at the 5, Franklin hit Jimmie Hunt on a 30-yard touchdown on third-and-14 to make it 14-3.

Green-Beckham scored on his third consecutive reception and Hunt scored his fourth career touchdown on just nine receptions. Green-Beckham and Danario Alexander (2009) are the only players in school history with a pair of 70-yard TD catches in a season.

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