Daily Journal masthead

Pinkel carried off field after Tennessee spoils Missouri's home finale with 19-8 victory


COLUMBIA, Missouri — Even in defeat, Gary Pinkel made a triumphant exit.

Pinkel was carried off the field by senior offensive linemen Evan Boehm and Connor McGovern to the sound of cheers after coaching his final home game in a 19-8 loss to Tennessee Saturday night.

"I didn't want it to end like this," Pinkel said drying his eyes. "I love those guys. When it's tough to win, it's my job to find a way. Bottom line, I feel like I let them down."

It was an emotional night all around for Pinkel, who began the night with hugs and tears for 21 seniors. Boehm, the center, set a school record with his 51st consecutive start.

"There are a lot of awesome memories here," Boehm said. "I think I made the best decision of my life to be here and play under Coach Pinkel."

Tennessee held opponents scoreless for eight consecutive quarters before Drew Lock scored on a 1-yard keeper on fourth-and-goal with 9:49 to go and hit Jason Reese for a two-point conversion. The Volunteers had Missouri pinned down much of the game, with the Tigers beginning five possessions at their own 11 or worse.

Lock, a freshman, finished 13 of 30 for 135 yards and an interception.

"He's going to be a great player down the road," Pinkel said. "You don't just point to that guy."

Lock said Pinkel was "pretty emotional" after the game.

"He was going to be a little bit of a mess and most of us were a mess," Lock said. "It was tough to see him go out like this, but Coach Pinkel will be fine, and we will be fine as well."

Wesley Leftwich and Cam Hilton had two catches for 44 yards. Hilton's 22-yard catch set up Lock's touchdown run.

PHOTO: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, right, embraces Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel, center, as Pinkel's wife, Missy Martinette, left, waits after they lost to Tennessee in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, right, embraces Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel, center, as Pinkel's wife, Missy Martinette, left, waits after they lost to Tennessee in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Russell Hansbrough had 12 carries for 41 yards in his final home appearance.

Jalen Hurd rushed for a career-best 151 yards on 34 carries and Tennessee dominated on defense, holding the Tigers to 2 of 15 on third-down conversions.

Joshua Dobbs had the Tennessee's only touchdown on an 8-yard run with 17 seconds to go in the first half and Aaron Medley had a career-best four field goals in a game begun in 28-degree chill. The Volunteers (7-4, 4-3 SEC) have won four in a row and beat Missouri for the first time in four tries.

Missouri (5-6, 1-6) needs a victory in the finale at Arkansas to avoid just the second losing record in the last 11 under Pinkel, who holds the school career record with 118 victories in 15 seasons. The 63-year-old Pinkel is resigning at the end of the season after revealing he has lymphoma.

"We've got another game left, another opportunity," Pinkel said. "We'll get back in the saddle and get going because that's what we do."

Attendance of 59,575, about 12,000 shy of a sellout, was no doubt held down by the coldest temperature at home under Pinkel — and fourth-coldest in Tennessee history. Perhaps half the crowd had left before the fourth quarter.

Cam Sutton's interception stopped Missouri's first possession on what Pinkel said was a busted call, and Tennessee also recovered a fumble. The Volunteers had 36:18 in time of possession, including almost five minutes late before Missouri got its final shot with just 1:13 to go.

Lock said there was a "mess-up on the play to say the least," on the interception. He was throwing for Leftwich, who didn't turn around.

"I should have thrown it out of bounds," Lock added. "It was a bad play on my part.

Hurd topped his previous career best of 125 yards against South Carolina last season and was the first opponent to gain 100 yards against Missouri by halftime when he had 108 yards on 16 carries. It's his eighth career 100-yard game, four in each of his two seasons.

Dobbs broke a few tackles on his touchdown run late in the half that put Tennessee up 16-0. Missouri was held to 62 yards and Lock was sacked twice.

Tennessee had excellent field position in the first quarter, starting no worse than its own 44, and had drives of just 35, 36 and 27 yards while taking a 9-0 lead early in the second quarter on Medley's three field goals, including a 44-yarder that matched his career best.

Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!

Story copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Feedback, Corrections and Other Requests: AP welcomes feedback and comments from readers. Send an email to info@ap.org and it will be forwarded to the appropriate editor or reporter.

Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel, center, is carried off the field by players Evan Boehm, right, and Connor McGovern, left, after an NCAA college football game against Tennessee, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Columbia, Mo., the final home game for Pinkel as head coach of Missouri. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
Click to view (3 Photos)

All content copyright ©2015 Daily Journal, a publication of AIM Media Indiana unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved. Privacy policy.