Simms lead Longhorns to 35-16 victory over Missouri
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Chris Simms continued his strong play with four touchdown passes as seventh-ranked Texas pulled away for a 35-16 Big 12 Conference victory over Missouri Saturday.
Simms has tossed 12 touchdown passes in his last three games, all victories for the Longhorns (7-1, 4-1) who pulled into a three-way tie for first place in the Big 12 South with Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
"Most defenses we've played have been more concerned with not giving up the big play than anything else," Simms said. "That's fine. We've proved that we can handle that and that we can move the ball down the field in whatever way."
Texas got off to a sluggish start and spotted Missouri (3-4, 2-3 North) a 7-0 lead on Kirk Farmer's eight-yard TD pass to Ben Fredrickson with 11:12 remaining in the first half.
"Missouri's a good football team," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "They're much better than they were at the first of the year. I think that's something people don't understand."
Simms responded with TD passes of five yards to B.J. Johnson and three yards to Brock Edwards to give Texas a 14-7 lead.
Brad Hammerich booted a 22-yard field goal with seven seconds left in the second quarter to pull the Tigers within 14-10, but Texas broke it open in the second half.
"The problem we had at halftime is that we weren't forcing turnovers again," Brown said. "Then we came out and forced a turnover at the beginning of the third quarter. I thought that started the slide for us to go ahead and win the game."
Simms, who completed 24-of-30 passes for 229 yards, had a hand in all five Texas scores. His one-yard TD run gave the Longhorns a 21-10 lead 6:10 into the third quarter. The junior capped his day with TD strikes of eight yards to Roy Williams and 39 yards to Brett Robin in the final period.
Simms has accounted for 14 of UTís last 16 touchdowns (12 pass / 2 rush) over the last three games.
Freshman standout Cedric Benson complemented Simms by rushing for a career-high 157 of Texas' 192 yards on the ground. Benson became the first Longhorns freshman ever to post three straight 100-yard rushing games and upped his season total to 574 yards, placing him sixth on the UT freshman single-season chart.
"I think we wore their defense down quite a bit," Benson said. "We put time on our side. We took a lot of time off the block and gave our defense a lot of time to rest."
The Tigers, who have alternated losses and wins all season, got their final touchdown on Zack Abron's seven-yard scamper midway through the fourth quarter.
Abron ran for a 109 yards on 13 carries, but Farmer had a miserable afternoon, completing just 6-of-20 passes for 71 yards against the Texas defense.
Missouri WR Justin Gage, who entered the game ranked second in the Big 12 and fourth in the NCAA with 7.5 receptions per game, and second in the Big 12 with 86.3 receiving yards per game, was held to just two catches for 14 yards by senior CB Quentin Jammer.
Texas held on to the ball for 19 plays and nearly 10 minutes on its first drive, but came up empty as Dusty Mangun missed a 19-yard field goal.
But the Longhorns wore down the Tigers with touchdown drives of 10, 11 and 13 plays.
"They controlled the ball well," Missouri coach Gary Pinkell said. "We went three-and-out a lot. I'm disappointed we did not play better. I'm going to start working harder tomorrow."
Texas improved to 10-1 all-time against Missouri, which dropped to 1-4 this season at home.