Mevis a hero again for Tigers in 33-31 victory against Gators

Missouri kicker Harrison Mevis (92) prepares to celebrate after making in a 30-yard field goal in the final seconds of Saturday night’s 33-31 win against Florida at Faurot Field. (The Associated Press)

COLUMBIA -- All night, Missouri was frustrated with settling for field goals.

But there was no frustration with the final one.

Harrison Mevis hit his second game-winning field goal of the season Saturday night to lift the Tigers to a 33-31 win against the Florida Gators at Faurot Field.

“That’s what they brought me here to do,” Mevis said. “… It’s a testament to the offense for putting me in a position to go do that.”

It was Mevis’ fourth field goal of the game, but the first three came in less ideal situations.

Mevis kicked his first to put the Tigers up 3-0 with 10:33 left in the first quarter after Missouri’s opening drive.

The Tigers were moving well, got a 10-yard run from Nate Peat and a 15-yard carry from Cody Schrader before Brady Cook kept the chains moving with a third-down pass to Brett Norfleet, who cleanly hurdled a defender near the sideline for a 16-yard gain. Then with goal to go, the Missouri offense stalled out.

A pass was dropped, Cook took a draw up the middle and then had to throw the ball away on third down to escape heavy pressure.

Mevis hit a 22-yarder to take the game’s first lead.

The Missouri offense was forced to punt twice, playing the field position game and forcing Florida to start within its own 20 both times.

The Tiger defense forced punts in return and eventually the Tigers started at their own 49, moved nine yards on the first two plays and Schrader broke through the left side of the line and went untouched down the sideline for a 42-yard touchdown.

“As I came across the inside zone, I pressed it,” Schrader said. “Saw the front-side A gap open up and just bursted straight through. Then it’s just up to me to win the race.”

Missouri was forced to punt for a third time, then the Tigers were forced to settle once again.

The Tigers survived a third-and-7 from their own 40 on the first set of downs when Schrader took a speed option pitch around the right side and found a huge hole to run through for a 34-yard gain.

Schrader ended with 148 yards to bring him to 1,272 for the season. He is now sixth on the Tigers’ single-season rushing leader list, 332 yards behind Tyler Badie’s program record of 1,604 from 2021.

From the Florida 17, the Tigers faced a third-and-1. The snap dropped to the ground and Cook seemed to pick it up in time and hand it off to Schrader for a first-down run up the middle, but after review Cook’s knee was deemed down on the turf and Mevis was sent back out for a 39-yard field goal to put Missouri up 13-7.

Florida was able to retake the lead with a touchdown on its first drive up the second half, going up 14-13, then Missouri answered with a score of its own after a Cook corner route to Burden gained 38 yards before Cook hit Norfleet for a 15-yard gain to get in the red zone.

Burden ended with 158 yards to push past 1,000 this season. His total of 1,142 is fourth on Missouri’s single-season record list behind Danario Alexander (1,781), Jeremy Maclin (1,260) and Victor Bailey (1,210).

Norfleet had three catches for a career-high 43 yards.

A Schrader run up the middle got Missouri to the 1, then a Cook draw up the middle put the Tigers up 20-14.

Florida needed only three plays to retake the lead at 21-20 with 7:16 left.

“Defensively we were not consistent tonight,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “… We were real leaky in our run fits and we’ve got some work to do this week.”

While the Missouri defense was up and down, the offense was able to retake the lead, but once again had to settle in a major situation.

The Tigers escaped a third-and-9 when Cook heaved a pass to Burden out of desperation, which Burden floated under and held on through a big hit at the point of the catch. He stayed up and made another man miss for a 48-yard gain, then a roughing the passer flag was added to the end of the play to put Missouri at the Florida 7.

A holding call pushed the Tigers back before a Schrader run set up second-and-goal from the 13.

Cook connected on a seem route to Norfleet for a touchdown, but it was taken off the board because of an ineligible player downfield penalty.

Cook then threw a pass to the front right corner of the end zone and it was tipped up by a defender, seemingly into the diving hands of Burden. The catch was called a touchdown initially, but a second score came off the board as it was overruled.

Eventually Mevis connected on a 25-yard field goal to put Missouri up 23-21.

The Tigers didn’t have to settle on their next drive.

A Florida fumble Kristian Williams jumped on set the Tigers up at their own 19.

It took only two plays for Cook to connected with Theo Wease on a delayed flat to the right after Cook pulled the lone defender in the area to him, leaving Wease wide open to run down the sideline. Mookie Cooper and Burden threw a couple of downfield blocks and Wease stayed in bounds for a 77-yard touchdown, Missouri’s longest play of the season.

Florida responded with a touchdown to cut the lead to 30-28 then Missouri’s fourth punt gave Florida the chance to take the lead.

The Gators got in the red zone and were forcing Missouri to take its timeouts to not allow the clock to run out with a late field goal. But on third down, Trevor Etienne took a carry around the right side of the lien and got out of bounds, leaving Missouri one time out on its final drive.

Florida hit the 35-yard field goal to go up 31-30 with 1:36 left to play.

“If you have timeouts left, you’re always going to make them fight, make somebody make a kick,” Drinkwitz said.

Missouri had to face a quick third-and-8 from its own 27, but Cook connected with Mekhi Miller on a stop just past the sticks.

But the Tigers moved backward on the next set of downs and faced a fourth-and-17 from their own 33.

The saved timeout came in handy to make sure the Tigers had their desperation play set.

“Just talked over the play we wanted to get into,” Cook said. “Making sure everyone knew what to do.”

Cook got the play done, finding Burden on a stop route at the sticks behind a drag route that turned into a block for a 27-yard catch.

“It’s do or die,” Cook said. “You have to deliver a ball into that window. I wasn’t thinking a whole lot.”

The Tigers gained another 27 yards to set up Mevis’ game-winning 31-yarder.

“What a way to send the senior class out,” Drinkwitz said. “This game was kind of the story of their career. Having to face so much adversity, come from behind, stick together. … Just really proud of them.”

Cook completed 20-of-34 passes for 331 yards, reaching 3,077 passing yards this season to make him the fifth Missouri quarterback to reach the milestone. Cook also surpassed 6,000 career yards and is 94 rushing yards shy of becoming the third Missouri quarterback to have 6,000 passing and 1,000 rushing.

Missouri (9-2, 5-2 SEC) will close the season trying to get to 10-2 for the first time since 2014 with a Friday afternoon matchup at Arkansas. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. (KRCG).