Columbia, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Freshman Maty Mauk made his first start for Missouri a memorable one, throwing for 295 yards and a touchdown while adding another score on the ground to guide the 14th-ranked Tigers to a 36-17 victory over No. 22 Florida at Faurot Field.
Mauk was pressed into duty after starting quarterback James Franklin sustained a shoulder injury in last week's win over Georgia that will leave him sidelined for the next couple weeks.
Mauk finished an efficient 18-of-36 passing with an interception, while Henry Josey racked up 136 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries for the Tigers (7-0, 3-0 SEC), who hold a two-game lead in the loss column atop the SEC Eastern Division after both Georgia and South Carolina suffered setbacks on Saturday.
After knocking off No. 15 Georgia last week, Missouri notched its second straight win over a ranked opponent, marking the first time the Tigers have won against ranked teams in consecutive weeks since 1973, when they beat No. 19 SMU and No. 2 Nebraska.
Kelvin Taylor, starting in place of the injured Matt Jones, finished with 74 rushing yards on 12 carries and scored Florida's lone offensive touchdown. Tyler Murphy managed just 92 yards on 15-of-29 passing with an interception for the Gators (4-3, 3-2), who were coming off a 17-6 setback at LSU last week.
"We are just not really a good football team, certainly not today. That's all on my shoulders," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said. "We had a hard time running the ball, and we couldn't protect (the quarterback) either."
Mauk made his presence felt from the start, needing just two plays to push the Tigers into the end zone.
L'Damian Washington hauled in a 41-yard grab down the right sideline on Missouri's first play from scrimmage. After a personal foul on Florida's Cody Riggs at the end of the play moved the Tigers to the Florida 20, Mauk floated a perfect pass to Bud Sasser in the back left corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead just 22 seconds into the game.
"That felt really good; that got my nerves down, I was a little too hyped honestly," Mauk said of the quick score. "I just wanted to go out and play football again and for L'Damian to come down with the first one, and then for Bud to score on the second one, that set the tone to where we wanted to play the whole game."
The Tigers forced a quick three-and-out from Florida, but Marcus Murphy muffed the punt to give the Gators a fresh set of downs.
Taylor followed with a 17-yard surge to set Florida up with a 1st-and-goal from the seven, but the Gators had to settle for a 23-yard field goal from Francisco Velez to pull within 7-3.
Missouri's Aarion Penton picked off Tyler Murphy later in the first quarter to set up Andrew Baggett's 43-yard field goal. Baggett added a 19-yarder midway though the second to make it 13-3 after Florida held the Tigers out of the end zone with a goal-line stand.
Mauk was intercepted by Brian Poole on Missouri's next touch, but on 3rd- and-11 from the Missouri 28 on the ensuing Florida possession, Tigers defensive end Kony Ealy stripped Tyler Murphy on a sack to end the Gators' drive.
Entering the third quarter facing a 10-point deficit, Solomon Patton provided the Gators with a jolt, as he fielded the opening kickoff of the half five yards deep in his own end zone and followed a convoy of blockers before bursting untouched down the left sideline for a 100-yard touchdown return that brought Florida within 13-10.
Missouri quickly countered, as Mauk found Jimmie Hunt for a 52-yard gain before Josey capped the 75-yard sequence with a 6-yard TD run three plays later, giving the Tigers a 20-10 cushion with 13:24 left in the third.
Baggett buried a 39-yard field goal on the Tigers' next touch to extend the margin, but Taylor got the Gators back within a score later in the frame when he capped a 6-play, 70-yard march that featured all running plays.
Taylor did most of the heavy lifting on the drive, rushing five times for 52 yards, including a 20-yard TD scamper off the left side that trimmed Florida's deficit to 23-17 with under a minute left in the third.
Josey's 50-yard run on the second play of Missouri's ensuing drive set up Baggett's 33-yard field goal early in the fourth to make it 26-17.
Baggett later knocked down a 28-yarder following a Florida three-and-out before Shane Ray stripped Tyler Murphy early on the Gators' ensuing possession, giving the Tigers the ball at the Florida 7.
Following a holding penalty on first down, Mauk scrambled to his left and tight-roped the sideline en route to a 17-yard touchdown that all but put the game away with 6 1/2 minutes remaining.