It was the blowout almost everyone expected.

Missouri took down Southeast Missouri State 50-0 on Saturday in the Tigers’ final game before Southeastern Conference play.

MU scored touchdowns in all three phases of the game before nine minutes came off the clock and truly put the outcome to bed before the Redhawks had a fighting chance to retaliate.

There wasn’t a shortage of options to choose from for this week's key play, nor was there a clear front-runner with the Tigers’ all-around efforts.

But here’s a look inside a first-quarter play that occurred in the midst of an inferno of points.

The setup

Missouri’s opening drive was nearly seamless. The Redhawks were unable to stop the Tigers from going down the field at will and scoring.

SEMO’s opening drive was the opposite, as it only lasted three plays. Its first play was an incomplete pass that quarterback Daniel Santacaterina left short of the wide receiver.

Missouri ran a blitz on second down and left no room for the Northern Illinois transfer to throw the ball. He got sacked by Khalil Oliver for a six-yard loss.

That set up a third-and-16 for the Redhawks deep in their own territory.

The formation

SEMO teased a passing play with three wide receivers and a tight end on the field.

Missouri initially brought five players to the line of scrimmage, but Cale Garrett backed off into pass coverage once getting a look at Santacaterina.

The rest of the MU defense was playing zone coverage in hopes of forcing a fourth down.

The play

The four Missouri pass rushers out-muscled the five Redhawk offensive linemen from the snap and quickly collapsed the pocket around Santacaterina.

Defensive tackles Kobie Whiteside and Jordan Elliott were at a 3-on-2 disadvantage in trying to take down the quarterback yet still pushed their way easily to come within arm’s reach of a sack.

Tre Williams, at right defensive end, drew a 1-on-1 challenge from SEMO and quickly spun to get a direct shot at Santacaterina.

That trio of Tigers wound up within a foot of Santacaterina at the exact same time. Feeling the pressure, SEMO’s quarterback made an errant throw to an area with nary a Redhawks wide receiver nearby.

The pass ended up Garrett's arms, basically without him even having to move.

The Missouri linebacker intercepted the ball at the 27-yard line and had a few blockers ahead of him after avoiding a diving tackle attempt from a Redhawks wide receiver at the SEMO 20.

A block from Chris Turner, the only defensive lineman to not get close to Santacaterina, helped fend off more Redhawks at the 10-yard line.

One more big block at the goal line from fellow linebacker Nick Bolton sent a SEMO offensive lineman to the ground as the MU co-captain waltzed into the end zone for six points.

The aftermath

The Tigers scored 37 more points throughout the game to win 50-0 in the 500th game ever played at Memorial Stadium.

Garrett’s interception return for a touchdown marked the second week in a row such an event has happened for the Tigers, with Bolton picking off a West Virginia pass for a score in Week 2.

The last time MU had consecutive weeks where linebackers returned interceptions for touchdowns was the first three games of the 2008 season. Sean Weatherspoon scored against Illinois and SEMO, while Jeff Gettys made it three weeks in a row against Nevada.

With SEC play beginning this weekend with a home matchup against South Carolina, points will come at more of a premium. Having ball hawks like Garrett and Bolton will be a luxury.

If SEMO tried to avoid Bolton because of his SEC defensive player of the week performance against West Virginia, it didn’t work out.

The veteran Garrett showed that same playmaking ability.

eblum@columbiatribune.com

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