Signing autographs and taking pictures for a gaggle of fans around him, Marvin Zanders seemed right at home.
"Just another day at the office," the Missouri quarterback said.
Zanders could be in Jacksonville, Fla., finishing his senior year in high school, but chose to enroll early with the Tigers so he could make plays such as his 80-yard touchdown run Saturday to cap the team's annual Black and Gold Game.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound freshman scooted untouched through a seam in the middle of the offensive line and scored with 15 seconds left, right after sophomore Eric Laurent hauled in a 93-yard touchdown reception from freshman Trent Hosick.
"When I got about 40 yards, I was tired, I was running, I was like, 'I just have to finish,'" Laurent said, still out of breath. "It was the first time I had gotten into the end zone all spring. It was a great feeling."
While the reserves took advantage of their playing time in the closing minutes, the second-team offense only managed one first down against the first-team defense in the first half on a 33-yard pass from junior Corbin Berkstresser to senior Gavin Otte.
Senior defensive end Markus Golden burst through the offensive line consistently and recorded a sack while junior Shane Ray had four tackles. The duo will be replacing All-American Michael Sam and Kony Ealy, who anchored a defensive line that helped Missouri win the SEC East last fall.
"Why would I be worried about filling any shoes?" Golden asked. "I'm the same person. I'm sticking to the same role I had last year, which was going hard and being myself out there."
In addition to Zanders and Laurent, sophomore first-stringer Maty Mauk scored the only other touchdown on a 3-yard keeper in the second quarter. The team named Mauk the most-improved quarterback for the spring after he completed 11 of 15 passes for 129 yards Saturday.
Mauk said he's been working on "just staying consistent and not letting other things get in the way. For instance, Dorial (Green-Beckham), things like that, we've just got to build off of it. Our guys really stepped up. We finished strong, that's what we need."
Senior Bud Sasser caught two passes for 22 yards in place of Green-Beckham, who was dismissed from the team last week. Green-Beckham was let go after police in Columbia said no charges would be filed in a suspected burglary involving the player because of reluctant witnesses fearing retaliation.
"When players make really bad decisions and poor mistakes, they should be accountable and that shouldn't happen," coach Gary Pinkel said. "It's unfortunate that one or two made mistakes to kind of drag everybody else down, but I know the real picture here. We've got great kids; they do a good job."
More than 23,000 fans watched the game, which marked the last of 15 practices this spring for Missouri. The Tigers next meet as a team in August in preparation for their season opener Aug. 30 against South Dakota State.
"It's kind of our chance just to give back to them," Hosick said. "Our fans are very supportive of us, and we love our fans. Whenever we can do this game, it's something that we like to do for people because we play to bring joy to people. So I think it's most important for them."
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