Larry Rountree III rushed for three touchdowns on Saturday to help lead Missouri to a 46-15 win over Florida in Columbia. (University of Missouri)

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By Spencer Gleason

For the first time this season, the Missouri Tigers beat an SEC team on Saturday.

After the Tigers’ Anthony Sherrils pounced on a muffed punt by the Florida Gators’ Brandon Powell in the first quarter, Missouri began a string of four consecutive touchdown drives to end the first half. The Tigers turned that 28-6 lead into a 45-16 win over the Gators in Columbia.

Drew Lock passed for three touchdowns and Larry Rountree III ran for three more, giving Missouri its third consecutive victory, tying their longest winning streak since the start of the 2015 season. The Tigers improved to 4-5 on the season and 1-4 in the conference.

Missouri set the pace early, giving the Gators’ defense a steady diet of running plays in the first quarter. The Tigers carried the ball 18 times for 91 yards in the first 15 minutes and finished the day with 227 rushing yards. Both Ish Witter and Roundtree III ran for 83 yards apiece.

The Tigers’ passing game was nearly identical, as Missouri finished with just one more passing yard than rushing.

Lock threw for 228 yards, completing 15-of-20 throws to six different receivers. Lock’s three touchdowns moved him past Brad Smith for second all-time in Missouri history. He sits at 58 career touchdowns, trailing only Chase Daniel.

In addition, Lock tacked on to his FBS leading 28 touchdown passes this season and has now thrown for 31 touchdowns this year.

Although the Gators entered Faurot Field as the two-time defending SEC Eastern Champions, this Gators team has struggled all season and as they arrived Saturday morning the Gators had their worst record since 1986, at 3-4 overall. That led them to fire head coach Jim McElwain last Sunday.

After opening up the quarterback position earlier this week, Florida interim coach Randy Shannon opted to move senior Malik Zaire under center. Freshman Feleipe Franks had started six of the previous seven games for the Gators.

Zaire entered the game with a 57.7 career completion percentage. He transferred to Florida last summer after three seasons at Notre Dame and Saturday was his first start of the season. He finished the game going 13-for-19 with 158 yards.

Franks did relieve Zaire late in the fourth quarter and threw for Florida’s only touchdown, after the game was already out of reach, but the Missouri defense was in the backfield all day. The Tigers tackled the Gators eight times for a loss and Terry Beckner Jr. tallied his team-leading sixth sack this season.

The 29-point differential tied Missouri’s largest margin of victory against an SEC team in three years, a 42-13 victory over the Gators in Gainesville in 2014.

The Tigers will continue conference competition as they host Tennessee next week for their final home game this season. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Post-Game Audio

Head Coach Barry Odom

Quarterback Drew Lock

Running Back Larry Rountree