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December 31, 2013
2013 Top Plays: Defense
With 2014 just around the corner, PowerMizzou.com is taking a look back at the moments that made an SEC East title possible for Missouri's football team. Today, we start with the top-five offensive plays from Missouri's 2013 season.
5. Gaines' scoops and scores: In retrospect, it didn't mean much as Missouri still lost to Auburn 59-42. But E.J. Gaines' second-quarter fumble-return for a touchdown helped keep the Tigers in the game.
Two plays after James Franklin threw an interception with Missouri trailing 14-10, Kony Ealy sacked Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, who fumbled the ball for the third time on the day. Gaines made the most of it, scooped and scored to give the Tigers a 17-14 lead.
Missouri would lead one more time during the game, but Gaines' score helped the Tigers keep the game within striking distance until late in the fourth quarter.
4. White helps defense hold on at the half: Missouri led Toledo 17-9 with halftime approaching, but the Rockets were driving to possibly tie or make it a one-point game. At that point, no one was completely sure what to make of Missouri, and Toledo had all the momentum.
However, with time running down and the Rockets at the 3-yard line, Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens showed some indecisiveness with pressure before throwing a desperation pass to the back of the endzone. After it was deflected, Missouri safety Matt White picked it off to end the half.
Missouri went on to win the game by 15 points, but that stop helped them take some breathing room, and momentum, into halftime.
3. Golden shoves and scores: Seems a bit odd that such a strong season would be defined by two plays from a non-conference game, but Missouri didn't really come into form until the conference play. By that time, most of the games weren't close.
But against Toledo, Missouri was a different team and the Rockets were keeping it close. On the first drive after halftime, Toledo drove down to Missouri's 26 before Markus Golden broke free into the backfield and shoved Terrance Owens as he tried to throw the ball. Instead, the ball floated up in the air and Golden intercepted it, racing 70 yards for a touchdown.
Toledo came back to make it a 24-23 game, but Missouri scored 14 unanswered points to end the game. Golden's shove and score helped the Tigers deal with Toledo's third-quarter run.
2. Ealy, out of the air and to to the house: Another non-conference play is a result of the final scores of most of the conference wins. A road game against Indiana marked Missouri's biggest game of the non-conference season, and at the time, it looked like the measuring stick for the 2013 year.
Missouri already gave up a 14-0 lead in the second quarter before going back up 21-14. Indiana started to drive past midfield before Kony Ealy jumped up at the line of scrimmage to intercept a pass by Nate Sudfeld.
Ealy returned it 49 yards for a touchdown and helped Missouri continue what would be a 24-point unanswered run to blow out Indiana and set the stage for an impressive season.
1. Ray, Sam put Mizzou's line on the map: This play was Missouri's first "Holy Cow" moment of 2013, a play that made everyone watching realize that an undefeated start wasn't a fluke.
Ten seconds of game time after going up 21-10 against Georgia in the first half, Shane Ray blew by a blocker and blind-sided Aaron Murray, forcing a fumble that Michael Sam easily picked up and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown. It extended Missouri's lead to 28-10 before halftime, and completely silenced the Sanford Stadium crowd.
Missouri's defensive lines had plenty of highlights in the non-conference season, but that play stands out from the 2013 season as the moment where the defensive line established itself as one of the nation's best.