Mizzou survives Sun Devils' late rally

September, 15, 2012
9/15/12
10:45
PM ET
Missouri's defense came up big in the end, but not before surrendering a 17-point advantage to Arizona State. The Tigers bounced back from last week's loss to Georgia with a 24-20 win against the Sun Devils, thanks largely to some last minute heroics from the Missouri secondary.

It was over when: Missouri safety Kenronte Walker intercepted Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly in the end zone with less than a minute to play to preserve the Tigers' four-point advantage. Kelly had an open receiver on the goal line, but he slightly overthrew his man and instead found Walker's welcoming arms.

Game ball goes to: Missouri running back Kendial Lawrence didn't set the world on fire with his 16 carries for 62 yards. But with the Tigers breaking in new quarterback Corbin Berkstresser in light of an injury to James Franklin, Lawrence shouldered his share of the load and ground out two rushing touchdowns. Lawrence paced a Tiger rushing game that finished with 126 total yards while the passing game struggled to find its rhythm.

Stat of the game: The Missouri defense forced the Sun Devils into four turnovers. Three of those came from Kelly, starting in a hostile environment as a sophomore.

Key play: ASU running back Marion Grice scored from 9 yards out to cut Missouri's lead to 24-20 with 11 minutes to play in the game, but the Sun Devils' special teams bungled and missed the extra point. That one point would be huge later in the night, when Arizona State faced fourth-and-goal with four minutes to play. Unable to kick a game-tying field goal, the Sun Devils were forced to go for the touchdown, and Kelly threw incomplete to give Missouri the ball.

What it means: No. 8 South Carolina is waiting to host the Tigers next weekend, and No. 1 Alabama is looming on the horizon. Missouri's bowl aspirations couldn't afford a 1-2 start, and the Tigers were able to avoid that ignominy. The Sun Devils begin Pac-12 play on a sour note after scoring 108 combined points in the two games before this.

David Helman | email

Reporter, RecruitingNation

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