September 1, 2007

Pig's play keys sloppy Tiger win

ST. LOUIS--It was fitting in a game as ugly as this that a Pig would make the biggest plays. For all the 74 points scored, without safety Pig Brown, Missouri would be making the two-hour commute back to Columbia as an 0-and-1 team.

"The defense stepped up," said senior receiver Will Franklin. "There was all the expectation about the offense and none about the defense and we have a great group of guys over there. They play fast and they get after the ball."

Brown had two fumble recoveries in the first half, one of which he ran back 100-plus yards for a touchdown that gave Missouri a 13-6 lead. But it was his interception with 58 seconds to go that ultimately, and finally, put the game out of reach.

Brown's pick inside the Tiger one-yard line halted a drive that had started at the Illini 30 and covered 48 yards with the help of a pass interference penalty on Missouri. The takeaways by Brown were three of five forced by the Tiger defense. Including a William Moore interception, it seemed that the Missouri secondary had put this one away multiple times.

"What coach preaches is we want four more takeaways," said Sean Weatherspoon. "Every time we made a big play, you kind of get that relaxed feeling. I felt that we kind of relaxed a little bit. When we make big plays like that, we've just got to know how to handle them."

But ultimately, a game the Tigers had once led by 24 points came down to the final 60 seconds. While Gary Pinkel called the performance "a comedy of errors," he ultimately was laughing because his Tigers still came out on top.

"In my business, you enjoy winning," Pinkel said emphatically. "Don't go there with my team. Those guys better enjoy winning. I learned that a long time ago."

Thanks to Pig, the Tigers could revel in victory, no matter how sloppy it was.

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