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No. 25 Missouri upsets No. 7 Georgia, 41-26

Saturday, 12 October 2013 21:07 Published in Sports

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Gary Pinkel said No. 25 Missouri won more than a second straight SEC road game when it upset No. 7 Georgia.

"I just think we earned a little more respect," Pinkel said. "The respect level just went up a couple notches."

Receiver Bud Sasser threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to L'Damian Washington in the fourth quarter after quarterback James Franklin left with a shoulder injury and Missouri held off Georgia's comeback attempt to beat the short-handed Bulldogs 41-26 on Saturday.

Pinkel said Franklin separated his right shoulder and expects the quarterback to miss at least one week.

Freshman Maty Mauk, who replaced Franklin in the fourth quarter, could start when Missouri (6-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) plays No. 17 Florida next week.

Missouri led by 18 points in the first half before Georgia (4-2, 3-1) cut the lead to 28-26 in the fourth quarter.

The Tigers answered the challenge with two late touchdowns, despite losing Franklin.

Missouri's first road win over a top 10 team since 1981 helped continue the Tigers' recovery from a 5-7 finish in 2012, their first in season in the SEC. The Tigers have scored 38 or more points in each of their six wins, including last week's 51-28 win at Vanderbilt.

"There is no question that one of the goals for this team is to get back to Missouri's winning ways," Pinkel said. "It is a big deal to them. ... They want to get back to competing for championships."

The Tigers ended Georgia's streak of 15 straight home wins.

After Franklin was taken to the locker room, Mauk threw a lateral to Sasser, who stopped and tossed a high, deep pass to the end zone for Washington. Washington, who outfought cornerback Damian Swann for the catch, had 115 yards and two touchdowns.

"I came in and everybody just told me to keep calm," Mauk said. "So I came in and got the plays to our guys. We executed well at the end. ... We scored when we needed to."

James Ponder's interception of Aaron Murray's pass with 4:25 remaining set up Henry Josey's 7-yard touchdown run to end Georgia's hopes.

Murray threw two interceptions and lost one of Georgia's two fumbles.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said turnovers helped decide the game.

"It was 4-0 on the turnovers," Richt said. "They did a really good job of securing the ball, and we didn't. You hear coaches say it over and over, but you can't win a game turning it over like that."

The Bulldogs had won four straight on the strength of a powerful offense, including 44-41 over LSU and 34-31 in overtime over Tennessee the last two weeks. Georgia's wave of injuries at tailback and wide receiver left Murray with inexperienced backups at the skill positions to keep pace against another high-scoring opponent.

Georgia almost filled a bench on its sideline with injured players who wore their red game jerseys over black warm-up pants. Among them was star tailback Todd Gurley (ankle).

After the game, Missouri players ran to edge of the Sanford Stadium hedges and celebrated their biggest SEC win yet with fans in the corner of an end zone.

Murray threw his second interception in the final minute. He completed 25 of 45 passes for 290 yards with three touchdowns.

"We had plenty of chances to tie it up, but we just didn't execute," Murray said.

"We did a pretty good job of getting back in the game. We were within 2 points of tying it up but just couldn't quite get it done."

Franklin scored on a 5-yard run in the first quarter and threw a 16-yard scoring pass to Washington in the second quarter.

Franklin completed 18 of 27 passes for 170 yards. Marcus Murphy had a 36-yard touchdown run for the Tigers.

Defensive end Michael Sam returned a fumble recovery 21 yards for a touchdown to give Missouri a 28-10 lead late in the second quarter. Murray fumbled when he was sacked by defensive end Shane Ray.

Georgia rallied as Murray threw touchdown passes of 7 yards to Rantavious Wooten in the third quarter and 10 yards to Chris Conley early in the fourth quarter. Conley couldn't catch Murray's pass on the 2-point conversion attempt that would have tied the game, leaving Missouri with a 28-26 lead.

Georgia was also without running back Keith Marshall (right knee) and three of its best receivers. Freshmen J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas filled in at tailback.

Georgia starting safety Tray Matthews, who hurt his hamstring in practice Tuesday, also did not play.

The loss of so many top threats on offense was the big news of the week for Georgia, but season-long problems on defense were just as glaring against Missouri. The Bulldogs began the day 12th in the SEC in pass defense and last in the league with its average of 32.2 points allowed.

Missouri almost matched that total in the first half.

Georgia needed help from three Missouri penalties, including two offside calls, for its only touchdown drive of the first half which ended with Murray's 7-yard scoring pass to Douglas late in the first quarter.

Missouri-Georgia Preview Capsule

Saturday, 12 October 2013 09:22 Published in Sports

No. 25 Missouri (5-0, 1-0 SEC) at No. 7 Georgia (4-1, 3-0 SEC), 11am (KTRS)

Line: Georgia by 9

Series Record: Georgia leads 2-0

WHAT'S AT STAKE

Georgia lost wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley and tailback Keith Marshall to season-ending knee injuries in last week's 44-41 overtime win at Tennessee and could be without tailback Todd Gurley (ankle) for a second straight week. Undefeated Missouri is trying to validate a strong start after last week's 51-28 win at Vanderbilt.

KEY MATCHUP

Missouri QB James Franklin vs. Georgia secondary. Franklin, a senior, threw four TD passes against Vanderbilt, giving him 13 for the season with only three interceptions. Georgia, which ranks 12th in the SEC in pass defense, likely will start two freshmen defensive backs, free safety Tray Matthews and cornerback Shaq Wiggins.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Georgia: RB J.J. Green. After Marshall left last week's game in the first half, Green took the lead role in the running game. The freshman had 17 carries for 129 yards, showing for the first time his potential to be more than a complement to Gurley and Marshall.

Missouri: DE Michael Sam. The senior has recorded three sacks in back-to-back games against Arkansas State and Vanderbilt. He has 10 tackles for losses and has forced a fumble.

FACTS & FIGURES

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray needs 325 yards to top Tim Tebow's SEC record for total offense (12,232) in a career. ... Missouri is making its first visit to Sanford Stadium. ... Georgia won 41-20 at Missouri last year in the Tigers' first SEC game. ... Missouri has matched its win total from 2012. This is the Tigers' fifth 5-0 start in coach Gary Pinkel's 13 seasons. ... Missouri has caused a turnover in 35 consecutive games, the longest streak in the BCS. ... Georgia LB Ramik Wilson leads the SEC with 52 tackles, including 15 at Tennessee. ... Missouri ranks second in the SEC, behind Texas A&M, with 46.6 points per game. Georgia is fourth at 39.8 against a schedule that has included three top 10 teams. ... Georgia has played 14 true freshmen. Ten freshmen have played on defense, including five who have started at least one game.

Beltran, Cards top LA 3-2 in 13 in NLCS opener

Saturday, 12 October 2013 09:18 Published in Sports

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Everything Carlos Beltran does looks effortless. St. Louis Cardinals teammates joke that it's like he's from another world.

"It's like you've got to put a mirror under his nose to check if he's breathing, he's so calm, cool and relaxed," leadoff man Matt Carpenter said after Beltran delivered another big October performance in a 3-2, 13-inning victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night.

"It's like jazz music is playing in his head. He's just so even-keel, nothing gets to him."

Beltran hit a tying, two-run double in the third inning. Then he took charge on defense, calling center fielder Jon Jay off the ball before throwing out a runner at the plate from shallow right field in the 10th to keep it even.

"I felt I was going to have a better angle so I called for the ball about five or six times," Beltran said. "And Jon Jay was able to hear me and leave it up to me."

Well past midnight at Busch Stadium, but with most of a sellout crowd still waiting expectantly, Beltran singled into the right-field corner with one out against Kenley Jansen to finish a game that took 4 hours, 47 minutes.

Neither team had much time to exhale before Game 2 Saturday afternoon, scheduled to start 14 1/2 hours after Daniel Descalso crossed the plate. It features a marquee pitching matchup - major league ERA leader Clayton Kershaw vs. Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha, who's flirted with no-hitters his last two starts.

"If the rest of this series is like this game," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said, "it should be a pretty good one."

Beltran has 16 home runs, 12 doubles and 34 RBIs in 40 career postseason games, and is hitting .345. He's also scored 42 runs and stolen 11 bases while with the Astros, Mets and Cardinals.

The eight-time All-Star is hoping this year ends with his first trip to the World Series.

It was the longest postseason game for the Dodgers since the 1916 World Series, when Babe Ruth pitched all 14 innings to lead the Boston Red Sox past Brooklyn.

This one also tied for the longest series opener in postseason history, according to STATS. Boston and Cleveland played 13 innings in their 1995 AL division series, with the Indians winning 5-4.

"You work so hard in the offseason, spring training and regular season to get to this point and we're fortunate to be here," Beltran said. "That's a preview. Today was a good game and that's it's all about."

Descalso had a pinch-hit single with one out in the 13th off rookie Chris Withrow, and Matt Carpenter walked. Jansen, usually the Dodgers' closer, relieved and Beltran won it with his hit on a 3-1 count.

"I tip my hat to Carlos Beltran," Jansen said. "He's a pro."

The Cardinals are unbeaten in extra-inning postseason games since dropping the opener of the 1946 World Series to Boston. That said, they're just 4-0 in that span.

Winning pitcher Lance Lynn strengthened his case for a possible Game 4 start with two scoreless innings. Withrow took the loss.

The Dodgers had two on in the ninth, 10th and 11th and came up empty. They stranded 11 overall while going 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position. They averaged 6 1/2 runs and batted .333, best ever in an NL postseason series, while taking a four-game division series from the Braves.

Dodgers starter Zack Greinke struck out 10 in eight innings, allowing just four hits. Cardinals starter Joe Kelly left after the sixth with the score 2-all.

Mark Ellis tripled with one out in the Dodgers' 10th. After Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked, Michael Young followed with a fly ball to shallow right field that Beltran caught.

Beltran made a strong, one-hop throw home and Ellis crashed into Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina.

Molina held the ball, but it was hard to tell whether he actually tagged Ellis. On such plays, however, umpires almost always give the benefit to the catcher and call the runner out.

"You've got to go, that's what you do," Ellis said. "They made a great throw, Yadi made a great tag."

The Dodgers put runners at first and second with two outs in the 11th against John Axford. Pinch-hitter Nick Punto, who played for the Cardinals on their 2011 World Series championship team, struck out to end the inning.

Young, in the game after cleanup man Adrian Gonzalez was pulled for a pinch-runner in the eighth, got another chance in 12th. With runners on first and second, he grounded into an inning-ending double play against Lynn.

Beltran's double in the third barely eluded center fielder Andre Ethier.

Slowed by a sore ankle, Ethier made his first start in this postseason. He appeared to mistime his jump just a bit as he banged into the padded wall.

Beltran's two-run double in the third was the only damage against Greinke. He fanned Carpenter, Matt Adams and Pete Kozma twice each and struck out the side in the fifth.

The teams are postseason foes for the first time since a Dodgers sweep in their 2009 division series. It's their first NLCS matchup since 1985, when the Cardinals won in six games behind game-breaking homers from Ozzie Smith and Jack Clark off Tom Niedenfuer.

Kelly left on his own terms after six innings in a 2-all tie, hurt only by Juan Uribe's two-run single in the third. Counting multiple efforts, the Cardinals had five relievers warm but the Dodgers were 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

Kelly got all three outs on strikeouts in the first. The Dodgers left runners on second and third when Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig fanned.

Kershaw started the division series clincher against Atlanta on three days' rest Monday and will be on regular rest in Game 2. The left-hander said the media made a big deal of short rest, but not he nor Mattingly.

Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire got a nice hand when he lined up along the third base line during introductions. So did two other former Cardinals, utility men Skip Schumaker and Punto. There was some booing for Greinke, who referred to Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter as a "phony" when Greinke was with the Brewers.

 

NOTES: Carpenter, who entered in a 1-for-29 slump, walked and scored on Beltran's double. ... Greinke's career best is 15 strikeouts for the Royals on Aug. 25, 2009, against Cleveland. ... It was the longest NLCS game since the New York Mets beat Atlanta 4-3 in 15 innings on Robin Ventura's "grand slam-single" in 1999.

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