It was one of the few setbacks Missouri faced against Troy on Saturday afternoon.
After Cale Garrett’s first interception of Trojans’ quarterback Kaleb Barker led the Tigers to a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Daniel Parker committed a facemask penalty that cost his team 15 yards and took them away from the goal line.
That didn’t faze tight end Albert Okwuegbunam and quarterback Kelly Bryant.
Faced with another first-and-goal from the Troy 16, Bryant faked a handoff to both Larry Rountree and Dominic Gicinto before he delivered a laser to Okwuegbunam in the back-right corner of the end zone.
Okwuegbunam leaped to catch the ball but as he nearly ran out of space to get a foot in bounds with his momentum.
Things didn’t get easier as Troy freshman cornerback Dell Pettus, who drew the 1-on-1 assignment, pushed Okwuegbunam toward out of bounds when his hands touched the ball.
Still, Okwuegbunam found a way to get his right foot for the touchdown.
“That’s probably one of my best plays (since) I’ve been here, and I'm just really excited,” Okwuegbunam said of the touchdown.
The score was Okwuegbunam’s team-leading fifth receiving touchdown of the season.
“Playmakers stand up and make plays,” MU head coach Barry Odon said of Okwuegbunam’s touchdown. “I learned a long time ago that I’m a lot better coach of good players, so they got to keep (making plays) and we are going to need it more than ever coming up into conference play.”
The Tigers are favored by 8.5 points over Ole Miss despite Ole Miss’ 31-6 win over Vanderbilt.
In the week leading up to the matchup with Troy, Tigers’ defensive line coach Brick Haley’s brother passed away, Odom added at his postgame press conference.
Haley has been one of the coaches behind Missouri’s defensive resurgence this season.
“Coach Haley is so important to our organization ... that guy, he means so much or our program,” Odom added. “For him to stay here and do what he did, coach and lead and guide and mentor and love our kids says a lot about him. Our prayers are with his family.”
Missouri athletics did not provide any injury updates on Sunday, meaning the status of Bryant and others is unclear heading into the homecoming matchup with Ole Miss.
The next chance to speak with Odom and players is Tuesday morning. Bryant didn’t play in the second half of Saturday’s game after being helped off the field with a leg injury.
MU cornerback and punt returner Richaud Floyd didn’t play after the first quarter against Troy after a hamstring injury and was seen during the second half of Saturday’s contest on the sideline standing on crutches.
Tigers defensive lineman and Columbia native Tre Williams sprained his ankle during Wednesday’s practice and didn’t play against the Trojans.
With the loss of Trajan Jeffcoat, which Missouri athletics stated wasn’t currently enrolled at the university on Saturday, Williams provides needed depth along the defensive line.
Odom also added after the game that safety Jordan Ulmer is looking to transfer from the program.