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Story ran on October 15, 1995

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Missouri defensive back Clayton Baker could do little more
than scratch his head and wonder about the luck -- or lack thereof -- the
Tigers seem to have.
Granted, it would have taken more than luck for the Tigers to avert a 57-0
thrashing yesterday at Memorial Stadium at the hands of No. 2-ranked Nebraska
(6-0, 2-0 Big Eight).
The loss tied the sixth-worst defeat in school history and was the worst of
Missouri coach Larry Smith's 19-year career.
But Baker was astounded with a turn of events that came at the end of the
first half for the Tigers (2-4, 0-2).
The final drive of the second quarter took Nebraska just 25 seconds, but it
proved to be significant.
At first, it appeared Nebraska might end the half without scoring. Quarterback
Tommie Frazier completed a 9-yard pass to Clinton Childs, but then two of his
passes fell incomplete.
The Cornhuskers faced fourth and 1 on the final play of the second quarter.
Nebraska could have kicked a 46-yard field goal, but coach Tom Osborne decided
against it.
Instead, Frazier threw for the end zone where two Nebraska players awaited.
Baker was the lone defender because, Smith said, defensive back Caldrinoff
Easter didn't ``jam the inside guy.''
Wingback Jon Verdal tipped the pass, which fell into the outstretched hands of
Brendan Holbein for a touchdown. Baker said he thought he knocked the ball
away to make the play, but to no avail.
``It just makes you sick to see those things happen,'' MU noseguard Steve
Martin said.
Baker said even though he was the only player defending two Nebraska players,
he thought he had a good read on the play.
``Early in the game, Tommie went to the second receiver, and this time I was
aware,'' Baker said. The receiver and I ``both broke in on the ball. But this
is one where Coach Smith calls it an Oh'' darn ``play.
``It's just our luck. I thought I had knocked the ball away and made the
play.''
Frazier said that an earlier failed fourth down conversion stuck in his mind.
On the Cornhuskers' first drive of the game, Nebraska faced fourth and goal
from the 1, but true freshman Ahman Green was stuffed on a run.
``That made us think twice and say, `Hey, these guys are ready to play today,
it's not going to be easy,' '' Frazier said. ``I pulled the offense to the
side and said, `We're going to have to get in the game.' ''
Frazier's touchdown pass extended Nebraska's lead to 28-0. The drive was set
up after tight end Miguel Gonzales fumbled. Gonzales caught a 15-yard pass
from Brandon Corso but was hit by Mike Minter and lost the ball.
``I got the ball and tried to turn upfield, and one of the guys hit the ball
out of my hand,'' Gonzales said. ``I felt we could have gained momentum if I
would have held on to the ball.''
Defensive coordinator Moe Ankney said for a while he thought the Tigers might
have held the Cornhuskers to only one touchdown in the first half.
But that clearly would be difficult as Nebraska took advantage of some prime
field position Missouri gave it.
The Cornhuskers scored four touchdowns in the first half, and three of those
drives were a meager 31, 27 and 38 yards.
``I thought we had things going well,'' Ankney said. ``I thought we were going
to keep it to 7-0, and then all of a sudden, bam, bam, bam. They got three
touchdowns, and that took it out of us.
``That last play was really just a freak.''
Baker said he hasn't exactly learned to accept such oddities, instead he
wonders why the Tigers seem to suffer such a disproportionate number of
strange occurrences.
``Sometimes you have to take these kinds of things with a grain of salt,''
Baker said, ``or maybe a mound.''
By JENNIFER KUESTER
CUTLINE
MU freshman quarterback Corby Jones saw his first action yesterday at
Nebraska. Jones was 0 for two passing and gained 7 yards on eight carries.
(Sean Meyers photo)


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