Missouri didn’t have the Music City experience it wanted.

The now-unranked Tigers fell 21-14 at Vanderbilt on Saturday afternoon, snapping not only their five-game winning streak but also an 11-game streak of scoring 30 points or more, which was the second-best stretch in the FBS behind Oklahoma.

As Missouri (5-2) goes back to the drawing board before another road matchup at Kentucky (3-4) on Saturday following the Tigers' second loss of the season when favored by at least 18 points, we take one more dive into the debacle at Vanderbilt Stadium.

For this week’s key play, the Commodores' game-winning touchdown takes center stage.

THE SETUP

Neither Missouri nor Vanderbilt (2-5) displayed an ability to consistently move the ball downfield throughout the game. Through three quarters, each team posted only one scoring drive of more than one play.

But with the Southeastern Conference clash tied at 14 midway through the fourth quarter, the Commodores produced an extended drive to move within striking distance of the end zone.

With a first down at the MU 24-yard line, Vanderbilt ran two plays for a total of three yards to set up third-and-7.

Riley Neal, Vanderbilt’s backup quarterback Saturday, replaced surprise starter Mo Hasan due to an injury in the second half and led the game-winning drive.

THE FORMATION

Neal and Commodores running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn lined up about five yards behind the line of scrimmage in a shotgun formation.

Vanderbilt had three wide receivers on the field — one to Neal’s left and two more to his right. A tight end was on either side of the offensive line.

Missouri used its usual 4-2-5 defensive formation, but only three Tigers had a hand on the turf: Jordan Elliott, Chris Turner and Kobie Whiteside.

Defensive lineman Tre Williams and safety Ronnell Perkins lined up standing on either side of the pass-rushing trio.

Both MU linebackers and the four defensive backs were away from the ball to defend the suspected pass play.

Missouri freshman and Columbia native Martez Manuel was the farthest player from the ball as the free safety. He stood at the Missouri 10, about 11 yards from the line of scrimmage.

THE PLAY

As the ball was snapped, Vanderbilt tight end Jared Pinkney — to Neal's right — ran a receiving route as an eligible receiver, while the other tight end stayed on the line of scrimmage as a blocker.

With four pass options, the Missouri quartet of DeMarkus Acy, Joshuah Bledsoe, Cameron Wilkins and Jarvis Ware drew 1-on-1 assignments against possible pass targets.

Manuel stayed back to prevent a passing route down the middle of the field, while linebacker Nick Bolton kept his eyes directly on Neal to stop him should he run the ball and to track where he was looking to throw.

Perkins and Williams blitzed Neal along with the three defensive linemen.

Neal made a quick release, holding onto the ball for less than two seconds. He completed a pass to Cam Johnson on the right side of the field, just short of the first-down marker.

Ware, who was primarily tasked with stopping Johnson, ran straight at him once the ball was thrown.

Ware made contact with Johnson but didn’t tackle him. Johnson then sprinted ahead with a touchdown in mind.

Four Missouri defenders surrounded Johnson at the 5-yard line, with Manuel having the best shot at a touchdown-saving tackle.

Manuel dove at Johnson’s legs but missed.

The elusive Johnson rode his momentum forward and did enough to stretch the ball over the goal line. Not even a tackle by Wilkins and Ware stopped the Brentwood, Tennessee, native from the game-winning score with 8 minutes, 57 seconds remaining on Vanderbilt’s homecoming.

THE AFTERMATH

Missouri recorded one more drive that went as far as the Commodores’ 25-yard line, but the Tigers were forced to attempt a field goal — a 48-yard attempt from Tucker McCann that missed wide left.

Vanderbilt drained the remaining six minutes on the clock to close out the shocking upset victory.

The most pressing concern for Missouri now is to try and find an offensive spark. Who will act as a catalyst?

Plenty of fingers will be pointed at quarterback Kelly Bryant for that role, though other suitors include tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, running back Larry Rountree and wide receiver Kam Scott, among others.

Another road test is coming, and the Tigers' offense will need to regain form fast.

eblum@columbiatribune.com

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