COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Missouri has been looking for a breakout game from its offense.
It finally came on Saturday night.
Russell Hansbrough ran for a career-high 199 yards and two touchdowns to help Missouri pile up a season-high 587 yards in a 34-27 win over Texas A&M.
Missouri (8-2, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) scored 28 points in the third quarter to erase a seven-point halftime deficit and take a 34-20 lead.
“This is the kind of game we’ve been waiting for, for a while,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “But can you do it back-to-back in the SEC against another good defense?”
The Aggies got within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and had a chance to tie it with less than three minutes remaining, but lost a yard on fourth down from the Missouri 1.
The Tigers then ran out the clock to secure their fourth straight win and remain in first place in the SEC East.
Hansbrough ran for touchdowns of 49 and 45 yards in his fifth career 100-yard game in front of a crowd of 104,756 which included former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara. It was the largest crowd to ever see a Missouri game, besting the crowd of 104,578 at Michigan in 1975.
“He’s very talented and he’s running the ball more vertical now,” Pinkel said of Hansbrough. “He’s matured ... when you have that many yards rushing it’s going to all start with the offensive line.
Kyle Allen threw for 237 yards with three touchdowns and an interception for Texas A&M (7-4, 3-4).
He tossed a 4-yard pass over the head of safety Duron Singleton to Malcome Kennedy for a touchdown to cut Missouri’s lead to 34-27 early in the fourth quarter.
Andrew Baggett’s 49-yard field-goal attempt bounced off the right upright, giving the Aggies the ball back with 5 ½ minutes remaining, but they came away empty after the fourth-down stop.
Missouri’s Shane Ray had a sack to give him 13 this season, extending his school record. Maty Mauk threw for 252 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Markus finished with two sacks and a career-high nine tackles.
Missouri converted 13 of 21 third downs on Saturday, raising the question of why the team was so successful in that area.
“If I had the answer to that I would be in New York City in a high-rise with one phone and it would cost a lot of money to talk to me,” Pinkel joked. “We’re very competitive. We work on third downs and we’re fortunate enough to do it.”
The Tigers tied it at 13-13 when Mauk found Darius White in the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown reception early in the third quarter.
A&M responded quickly with Allen finding Josh Reynolds for a 56-yard touchdown catch three plays later to put the Aggies back up 20-13. The score gave Reynolds, who had 125 yards receiving, 12 touchdown receptions this season to tie a school record.
Hansbrough knotted the score once again when he burst up the middle 49 yards for a touchdown less than two minutes later.
Missouri forced a punt and Hansbrough did it again on the next drive, this time evading three tacklers on his way to a 45-yard touchdown run to make it 27-20. A 16-yard touchdown run by freshman Ish Witter pushed the lead to 34-20 with about a minute left in the quarter.
Texas A&M’s defense struggled playing without linemen Myles Garrett and Ivan Robinson who missed the game with injuries. Coach Kevin Sumlin wouldn’t say what their injuries were but said that middle linebacker Josh Walker broke his foot in the second quarter.
“Obviously you have one of the better players in the league that was out and a guy that’s played very well for us inside, it had to affect us some,” Sumlin said. “But we’ve got other players that need to step in this time of year and play.”
Reynolds scored on a 24-yard reception to give A&M a 10-3 lead about 10 minutes before halftime.
That score came after the Aggies got a fresh set of downs when Missouri was penalized for roughing the punter.
Bud Sasser had a 2-yard touchdown catch wiped out when he was called for pass interference and the Tigers settled for a 35-yard field goal to cut the lead to 10-6. Sasser finished with 83 yards receiving.
The Tigers were driving late in the second quarter when Armani Watts intercepted a pass and returned it 36 yards. Reynolds had a 32-yard reception to set up a 31-yard field goal to leave A&M up 13-6 at halftime.