(AP) — Defying the game plan, James Franklin led the way with his legs. Out the window went Missouri's aim to keep the quarterback healthy by staying in the pocket and being a distributor.
Franklin made crucial plays on consecutive scoring drives in the second half, lowering his shoulder more than once while pulling the Tigers out of danger in a 38-23 victory over Toledo on Saturday. After finishing with a team-leading 77 yards on 17 carries, his most yards since the 2011 Independence Bowl, Franklin said he was supposed to run just a little.
"I don't know if people ever called him out for his toughness," guard Max Copeland said. "But if they were, they're probably eating their words now.
"Because that's one tough dude."
Missouri (2-0) led 24-23 after Toledo (0-2) scored its first two touchdowns of the year but Franklin's 21-yard keeper set up Henry Josey's second 1-yard touchdown run of the game to end the third quarter.
On the next possession, Franklin had four carries in a span of five plays including a 6-yard carry on fourth-and-3 and an 11-yard gain on third-and-9 to set up Marcus Murphy's 8-yard run to conclude the scoring with 10:29 to go.
Franklin said he liked throwing more than running and was 16 for 25 for 212 yards and a touchdown, but added, "I think we always go out looking for an answer."
It was an emotional matchup for Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, a Hall of Famer and the career wins leader at Toledo, after his 92nd win put him one behind Dan Devine for No. 2 with the Tigers.
After a 58-14 rout over Murray State in the opener, Pinkel had anticipated a challenge. Toledo pushed another SEC school, Florida, in a 24-6 opening loss.
"Everything I said after the Florida game was true, and obviously it was a battle," Pinkel said. "We did the things necessary to pull away."
Toledos' David Fluellen had 111 yards on 14 carries and 10 catches for 100 yards.
"Jeez, man, he's special," coach Matt Campbell said. "He's got a chance to have a really special year."
A couple goof-ups helped Missouri fend off a two-touchdown underdog.
"I don't know," Toledo coach Matt Campbell said. "I thought we probably shot ourselves in the foot a couple times."
Markus Golden got a gift 70-yard interception return in the third quarter when the ball squirted out of Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens' hands and right into his arms. Jeremiah Detmer hit three field goals in the first half, connecting from 24, 46 and 41 yards, but punted a low line drive into the back of a Toledo lineman, a 9-yard net to the Rockets' 44 that gave Missouri a short field on the Murphy score.
Owens scored on a 4-yard keeper and hit Alonzo Russell for a 41-yard score, most of it on a sideline sprint that capitalized on blown coverage, in a span of 5½ minutes in the third quarter to shave the deficit to one.
Attendance was announced at 56,785 in a game that began in 90-plus degree heat. Less than half remained for the finish.
Golden's touchdown came just a few plays after linebacker Andrew Wilson, one of Missouri's top defensive players, was ejected for a borderline targeting hit on Marcus Reedy on an incomplete pass. Golden was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct after planting the ball on the turf in the end zone, and Reedy's resulting 59-yard kickoff return helped set up Owens' touchdown.
The 260-pound Golden was a running back in high school and wasn't worried about getting caught from behind. He wasn't sure why he was penalized, but accepted "full blame" for what Pinkel said ended up a "wash" after Toledo's quick answer.
Pinkel wasn't sure if the call was warranted, but said it was "obviously it's a discipline issue" and added, "Act like you've been there before."
Dorial Green-Beckham beat one-on-one coverage from Jordan Martin on a 9-yard touchdown catch with 1:14 to go in the half for a 17-9 lead. Missouri got a big stop in the other end zone to end the half, with Matt White intercepting a pass from Owens that was tipped.
Levi Copeland's 51-yard diving reception at the 7, with three defenders in futile pursuit, set up Josey's first 1-yard run.
The officiating crew needed alternate Chad Walker after umpire David Parker sprained his left knee in the first quarter.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.