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24th-ranked Tigers seek to ground Rockets

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Updated: 9/03 11:46 am

Toledo, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The 24th-ranked Missouri Tigers will face their first road test of the season on Saturday afternoon when they venture to The Glass Bowl for a non-conference bout with the Toledo Rockets.

Missouri opened up the 2014 campaign last weekend with a contest against FCS foe South Dakota State, capturing a 38-18 victory for its 13th straight season-opening win under head coach Gary Pinkel.

Pinkel, who coached Toledo from 1991-2000 to a 73-37-3 record, knows not to overlook the Rockets.

"(Toledo is) a really good football team," he said. "They have a history of big wins in that stadium, upset wins. I know, I've been a part of them too."

The Tigers were up to the challenge away from home last season, going 5-0 in true road tests.

The Rockets set themselves up with a soft matchup in their opener as well and took advantage with a convincing 54-20 triumph over New Hampshire. It was their first season-opening win in three tries under head coach Matt Campbell.

The teams met for the first time last season in Columbia, with Missouri coming away with a 38-23 win.

Despite winning by a comfortable 20-point margin, Missouri was merely average on offense in its opener, racking up 393 yards, going 3-of-11 on third down and owning less than 25 minutes of possession time.

Maty Mauk had a rather quiet day passing, completing 13-of-21 attempts for 178 yards, but he was still very effective by throwing three touchdowns without an interception.

"I thought we did pretty well," Mauk said. "We had a lot of inconsistency we have to clean up and that is stuff we can fix."

Two of Mauk's scoring strikes found the grasp of Darius White, one for 44 yards and the other a 39-yarder. They were White's only two receptions on the day.

Russell Hansbrough was a workhorse in the backfield with 20 carries for 126 yards and a touchdown. Marcus Murphy made his mark in several facets of the game, finishing with 54 rushing yards, 20 receiving yards and a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Defensively, the Tigers played well in allowing just 18 points and 365 yards while forcing three turnovers.

Markus Golden was the defensive standout, collecting 10 tackles, 3.0 TFL and 1.5 sacks. Aarion Penton registered seven tackles and an interception, Duron Singleton also picked off a pass and Ian Simon forced a fumble.

Toledo was on offensive juggernaut in the opener, piling up 666 yards while scoring the second-most points in the Campbell era. It was also an excellent 9-of-13 on third down and scored on all seven of its red zone drives.

Phillip Ely was nothing short of spectacular in his first collegiate start under center, going 24-of-34, for 337 yards and four touchdowns while adding 23 rushing yards.

"Just being out there was the best feeling," Ely said. "Being a part of the team and knowing you're the guy that all guys rally around. It was really special."

Alonzo Russell (six receptions) and Corey Jones (four receptions) both finished with 78 yards, with Jones scoring a 64-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Justin Olack had only three catches for 24 yards but was on the receiving end of two Ely touchdowns.

The rushing attack was on point as well. Kareem Hunt acted as the featured back and turned 20 carries into 136 yards and two scores. Damion Jones-Moore saw just seven touches but made the most of them with 70 yards and a score.

Although the Rockets allowed 375 yards to UNH, they had plenty of big defensive plays with 9.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks and an interception.

Trent Voss and Junior Sylvestre led the squad with nine tackles apiece, with Voss also picking up a sack.

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