Missouri safety Jasper Simmons, right, intercepts a pass intended for Illinois wide receiver Eddie McGee, left, during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) By Jeff Roberson
Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert drops back to pass during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against the Illinois Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) By Jeff Roberson
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Blaine Gabbert rallied Missouri from a 10-point halftime deficit with two touchdown passes and Carl Gettis made a leaping one-handed interception and downed a punt at the 1 in the fourth quarter of an opening 23-13 victory over Illinois on Saturday.
T.J. Moe had 13 receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown, and the Tigers' defense shut out Illinois in the second half. Kenji Jackson also intercepted Nathan Scheelhaase in the fourth quarter to help seal it for Missouri, which finished the neutral-site Arch Rivalry series with six straight victories.
Mikel Leshoure had 112 yards on 20 carries for Illinois, coming off a 3-9 season. Scheelhaase, a redshirt freshman, was 9 for 23 for 81 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. He also rushed for 76 yards on 16 carries in his first career start.
Missouri was a 12-point favorite and totaled 129 points the previous three meetings, but scuffled in the first half. Illinois controlled the clock for nearly 18 minutes and scored twice in the final 2:10 to take a 13-3 lead on A.J. Jenkins' 10-yard catch and Derek Dimke's career-best 52-yard field goal to end the half.
Illinois was held to 85 yards and four first downs in the second half.
Gabbert was 34 for 48 for 281 yards, 167 of them coming in the second half.
Gettis leaped high to steal the ball away from Jenkins at the Illinois 45 early in the fourth quarter, halting Illinois' first possession after Michael Egnew's 6-yard catch put the Tigers ahead 17-13.
After Missouri's ensuing drive stalled, Gettis downed Matt Grabner's punt at the 1. That led to a three-and-out for Illinois.
Illinois took advantage of a terrible two-play sequence in the first half. A wide open Wes Kemp dropped a pass at the Illinois 25, a gain that would have been at least 25 yards, and Gabbert was sacked for a 14-yard loss to force a punt.
Illinois' last drive ended after Leshoure was ruled out of bounds on a potential first-down catch at the Missouri 46 after officials reviewed the play. Grant Ressel added a 35-yard field goal in the final minute.
Missouri had 98 yards rushing without Derrick Washington, kicked off the team earlier in the week after being charged with sexual assault. De'Vion Moore had 78 yards on 16 carries.
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