COLUMBIA, MO — The Texas Longhorns entered Faurot Field bruised and battered. They left in even worse shape.
Playing without their leading receiver and top two rushers, the Longhorns lost senior tailback Fozzy Whittaker on their first drive to a knee injury. From there, the offense sputtered and Texas fell to Missouri, 17-5, on Saturday afternoon.
"It was just tough for us to gain momentum after that," said junior receiver Marquise Goodwin.
The Longhorns mustered just 76 rushing yards after going over 400 in each of their last two outings. They converted only five of 17 third downs and the offense was held to a season-worst 247 yards. Texas did not score a touchdown for the first time since 2004, when they were shutout by Oklahoma, 12-0.
"Inability to move the ball on offense was what cost us the game," said Texas head coach Mack Brown.
The injuries didn't end with Whittaker. Late in the first quarter, starting linebacker Keenan Robinson injured his right thumb and did not return. Tight end D.J. Grant also left the game with knee discomfort.
Freshman receiver Jaxon Shipley did not dress for the straight week with a knee injury. Freshman tailbacks Malcolm Brown (turf toe) and Joe Bergeron (hamstring) suited up, but did not play.
"They were running (on the sideline) during the game even to see if they could play and the trainers didn't think they should," Mack Brown said. "We’re not going to put one out there if he's not ready."
That trio had accounted for the majority of the Longhorns' offensive production this season. Without them, Texas (6-3; 3-3 Big 12) struggled to find its rhythm and lost for the first time in three weeks.
"Everything had to change and obviously it didn't work very well," said Brown, who lost to Missouri for the first time in seven tries.
David Ash started his fourth straight game but couldn’t get in sync with his receivers, and a gusting wind hampered the passing game. He went 13-for-29 for 158 yards and was intercepted at the end of the first half.
"I overthrew some with the wind and I under threw some against the wind," Ash said. "I didn't rise to the occasion like I wanted to."
Missouri (5-5, 3-4) took control of the game in the second quarter. Quarterback James Franklin capped a nine-play, 83-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run. On the Tigers' next possession, Texas had a chance to keep the game within reach, but a costly penalty on a questionable call led to a score.
Longhorns safety Kenny Vaccaro stopped De'Vion Moore for a two-yard loss on third down, but was flagged for a personal foul for illegal helmet-to-helmet contact. On the ensuing play, Kendial Lawrence sprinted 35 yards for a touchdown to give MU a 14-3 advantage.
"It was a momentum shift," said Vaccaro, a junior. "You think you have a third down stop and then all of a sudden a big penalty like that brings you down."
Aside from the mountain of injuries, it was still a forgettable day for the Longhorns. They had a punt blocked in the third quarter and missed a 53-yard field goal.
For Missouri, though, the victory could be the spark that turns its season around.
"I was really proud of our football team and it was definitely a gut-check," said Tigers head coach Gary Pinkel. "We were 4-5 with three games left. It's a big win for us."
After looking like a team on the rise following two straight wins, the Longhorns return to Austin with a number of question marks, most notably the health of their once dominant running game.
"We have to go back and start over on Monday," Brown said.
Printed on Monday, November 14, 2011 as: Injuries contribute to Longhorns' loss