Missouri rolls to 38-7 win over West Virginia in home opener
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) _ Kelly Bryant threw three touchdown passes, Missouri held rebuilding West Virginia to 171 yards of total offense, and the Tigers rolled to a 38-7 victory in their home opener on Saturday.
More importantly, they bounced back from last week’s stunning loss at Wyomng.
Bryant finished with 150 yards passing but played less than three quarters, heading to the locker room after becoming overheated. But with the game out of reach, it didn’t really matter.
Albert Okwuegbunam had two touchdown grabs. Larry Rountree added 99 yards and a score on the ground. Nick Bolton had a pair of interceptions and returned the second for a fourth-quarter touchdown that only emphasized a dominant performance on the defensive side of the ball.
After allowing the Cowboys to run for 297 yards in a 37-31 loss, the Tigers (1-1) limited the Mountaineers (1-1) to 30 yards rushing. Transfer quarterback Austin Kendall was just 15 of 25 for 137 yards, most of that coming on a late touchdown throw, and also had a pair of interceptions.
Just like last week, the Tigers got off to a quick start on Saturday. But unlike last week, when an ominous second quarter followed, coach Barry Odom’s team kept right on rolling.
Okwuegbunam capped a 72-yard drive with his first touchdown reception to make it 10-0 late in the first quarter. Rountree scored from 10 yards out after a 59-yard march early in the second, then Okwuegbunam grabbed his second TD catch later in the quarter. And when Bryant found Barrett Banister in the final seconds of the first half, the Tigers had a 31-0 lead at the break.
As for West Virginia, well, things went haywire right from the start.
New coach Neal Brown called for an onside kick on the opening kickoff that didn't work. The Mountaineers went three-and-out on their first drive, then Kendall had tipped passes picked off to end each of the next two possessions. They even missed a field goal in the second quarter.
West Virginia's running game may have been the most embarrassing aspect of the day. Brown had vowed it would improve after managing 34 yards against James Madison last week, but the Mountaineers actually went backward in the first half _ 15 attempts took them back six feet.
West Virginia lost another three yards on the ground in the third quarter, and its bumbling and ineffective offense didn't reach positive yards on the ground until there was 7:44 to go.
The Mountaineers finished with 32 carries for 30 yards.
Missouri's home opener also was the unveiling of the new south end zone at Faurot Field. The $98 million project created new suites, club seats and a members-only, field-level club space.
Several members of the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues were on hand, getting a big ovation before the start of the game. The Blues play their preseason opener against the Stars on Sept. 16.
West Virginia returns home to face North Carolina State next Saturday.
Missouri faces Southeast Missouri State next Saturday before SEC play begins.