Kelly Bryant, a graduate transfer from Clemson, earned his first victory as Missouri’s quarterback, throwing for three touchdown passes in the Tigers’ 38-7 nonconference win over visiting West Virginia in Columbia, Mo., on Saturday.
The Tigers, who opened the season with an upset loss at Wyoming last week, were led by Bryant for most of three quarters before he was replaced by backup Taylor Powell, reportedly because of heat exhaustion. Bryant departed to the Missouri locker room in the fourth quarter.
Bryant, who completed 17 of 25 passes for 150 yards, was aided by a running game that gained 232 yards behind 99 yards on 18 carries by Larry Rountree and 71 yards on 12 rushes by Tyler Badie.
West Virginia, which is 1-1 under first-year coach Neal Brown, managed only 171 total yards, including 30 on the ground.
West Virginia quarterback Austin Kendall, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma, struggled with two interceptions. He completed 15 of 25 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown.
Jack Allison, a transfer from Miami, replaced him early in the fourth quarter and threw an interception on his second pass attempt that was returned 20 yards for a touchdown by linebacker Nick Bolton to put the Tigers ahead 38-0 with 12:07 left in regulation.
It was Bolton’s second interception of the game.
Kendall returned to the game in West Virginia’s next possession and later connected on a 46-yard scoring pass to George Campbell with 5:13 left to avoid the shutout.
Bryant’s three touchdown passes came in the first half as Missouri led 31-0 at the break. He had completed 14 of 20 passes for 125 yards at that point, with two touchdown passes to Albert Okwuegbunam and another to Barrett Banister.
Missouri overcame 10 penalties for 100 yards before halftime, scoring on five of its six possessions of the half.
Interceptions by Bolton and safety Ronnell Perkins led to the Tigers’ first two touchdowns.
Four plays after Bolton’s pick, Bryant completed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Okwuegbunam to put Missouri ahead 10-0 with 4:47 left in the quarter. Following the interception by Perkins on West Virginia’s next possession, Rountree capped an 11-play, 59-yard drive with a 10-yard scoring run.
Bryant generated two more scoring drives of 12 and 11 plays in the second quarter.
—Field Level Media