Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Late Hit Costly for MU's Beckner

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Late Hit Costly for MU's Beckner

Article excerpt

COLUMBIA, Mo. * Terry Beckner Jr.'s first start at Memorial Stadium didn't last long. Missouri's freshman defensive tackle, inserted into the starting lineup last week at Kentucky, was flagged for targeting with 10 minutes left in the second quarter Saturday against South Carolina. The penalty carries an automatic ejection if confirmed by instant replay review.

On the play, Beckner's plowed into quarterback Lorenzo Nunez after he lofted a pass into the end zone. Beckner's facemask appeared to strike Nunez's helmet, sending the quarterback sprawling to the turf. According to the NCAA's targeting rule, a player can't strike a defenseless player's head or neck with the helmet, forearm, fist, elbow or shoulder.

Fans booed the penalty and subsequent confirmation by replay review, but Missouri's assistants watching on a monitor in the press box told coach Gary Pinkel it was the right call, he said.

"I know some people might say (Nunez) ducked and he hit his head, but you can't do it," Pinkel said after his team's 24-10 win.

Beckner became the sixth Mizzou player tossed for targeting since the rule was changed in 2013 to add the automatic ejection. Pinkel has consistently supported the rule.

"We've got to protect football," he said. "We've got to protect college football. I talked to Terry and (told him), 'This is going to be a great lesson for you and the rest of the defensive line, especially the young guys.'"

Beckner was not allowed to return for the second half but will be allowed to start Saturday's game against Florida.

The 15-yard penalty extended South Carolina's drive deep into Mizzou territory and set up the Gamecocks' only touchdown two plays later. From the 8-yard line, Nunez flung a pass toward the goal line for Pharoh Cooper, but cornerback Aarion Penton got in the way for an easy interception. Instead, Cooper poked the ball loose from behind and right to tailback Shon Carson, who snagged the deflection and finished off the unorthodox game-tying touchdown. …

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