NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tyler Badie set the offensive pace for the Missouri Tigers on Saturday afternoon with two rushing touchdowns and 294 total yards in a 37-28 Southeastern Conference win over Vanderbilt.
Badie, who was leading the SEC with 143.6 all-purpose yards per game heading in, touched the ball 39 times — rushing for 254 yards on 31 carries and catching nine passes for 40 yards.
“Tyler Badie is a great player,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “I have been saying it for a long time. He is the best player nobody is talking about.
“He is really the engine that drives us. He has a big heart. He is a competitor. He wants to win. I want to win. This team wants to win.”
After allowing Missouri (4-4, 1-3) to take a 10-0 first-quarter lead, the Commodores rallied. An interception by Vanderbilt’s Max Worship at the Commodores’ 2-yard line set up a scoring drive, culminating with Mike Wright hitting Cam Johnson over the middle for a 7-yard TD.
The Commodores (2-7, 0-5), who have lost 18 straight SEC games, pulled ahead 14-10 in the second quarter on a 10-yard run by Patrick Smith. After a fake Vanderbilt field-goal attempt resulted in a 5-yard rushing loss by kicker Joseph Bulovas, Missouri took over with 15 seconds left in the first half. That was enough time for Connor Bazelak to fire a 45-yard scoring strike to Keke Chism, giving the Tigers a 17-14 lead at halftime.
Missouri extended its lead to 24-14 on a 15-yard TD run by Badie with 5:28 left in the third quarter. Mike Wright connected with Gavin Schoenwald for a 4-yard TD — keyed by Wright's 70-yard run on first down — on the ensuing drive to pull the Commodores within three points heading into the final quarter. Wright also set up Vanderbilt's first TD with a 69-yard run.
Harrison Mevis kicked field goals covering 32 and 52 yards to give Missouri a two-score lead at 30-21 with 5:59 remaining. Wright answered with a 10-play, 75-yard drive, ending with his 6-yard TD toss to Johnson, to cut the Commodores' deficit to 30-27 with 3:11 left. But Badie's 73-yard run on first down set up Tyler Macon's 2-yard TD run to wrap up the Tigers' first conference win of the season.
“We found a way to win the game,” Drinkwitz said. “We wanted to start fast and we did. I was proud of our offense in the second half. There was a lot of team stuff in this win.”
Wright passed for 122 yards and three touchdowns with one interception and rushed for 152 yards on 14 carries for the Commodores.
Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea says his team is constantly working to get better.
“We are fighting every day to get this thing where we know it can be,” Lea said.
Missouri: The Tigers' offense put together a solid effort. However, Worship’s interception stopped Missouri’s scoring streak inside the red zone at 21. Badie entered the game leading the SEC with 13 touchdowns, third nationally. He has 11 rushing touchdowns and has scored a touchdown in each game.
“I just try to be there for my teammates,” Badie said. “Whenever they need me I am going to be there for the guys. I hear people talking about durability but if I need to touch the ball that many times for my team that is what I am going to do.”
Vanderbilt: Worship has two interceptions this season. He is the fourth Commodore with two or more interceptions. Only Vanderbilt and Alabama have three or more players with multiple interceptions.
Bazelak left the game late in the second-to-last offensive series for Missouri. He threw for 218 yards, completing 14 of 28 passes with one touchdown and one interception. He was still being evaluated but Drinkwitz indicated it might be a soft tissue injury. He would not speculate on what he would do next week even though backup Macon, a freshman, scored the final touchdown. Brady Cook is also in the mix.
“I am going to sip on a Diet Coke and go trick-or-treating. I will figure it out Monday in practice.”
Missouri: The Tigers hit the road to play top-ranked Georgia on Saturday.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores have a bye before hosting Kentucky on Nov. 13.
More AP college
football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25.
Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25