Authors: By R.B. FALLSTROM
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- James Franklin ran for one touchdown and passed for the clinching score in his first career start, helping No. 21 Missouri open with a 17-6 victory over stubborn Miami of Ohio on Saturday.
E.J. Gaines had an end zone interception for the Tigers, who whipped the RedHawks by 38 points in their final pre-Big 12 tuneup last season but had their struggles on both sides of the ball in 90-degree heat. Three of their first four possessions ended quickly with punts for an offense that averaged 30 points last season, and Miami of Ohio moved the ball with some success.
Miami of Ohio recovered from a 51-13 spanking at Missouri last fall to win the Mid-American Conference, and entered the opener under new coach Don Treadwell, the former Michigan State offensive coordinator, with a six-game winning streak. The RedHawks trailed 10-6 after Erik Finklea's 10-yard run late in the third quarter.
Missouri, which had been around a 20-point favorite, answered on the first play of the fourth quarter. Marcus Lucas' 10-yard catch was his first college touchdown and in his first start as the fill-in for injured Jerrell Jackson.
Dayonne Nunley's interception and 5-yard return of Franklin's overthrown pass gave Miami possession at the Missouri 19 and set up Finklea's score.
Down by 11, Miami ran out of downs at the Missouri 30 midway through the fourth quarter. Dominique Hamilton recovered quarterback Zac Dysert's fumble with 1:49 left.
Two Missouri defensive players left with injuries. Linebacker Will Ebner sprained his left ankle in the first quarter and end Jacquies Smith left with an apparent shoulder or wrist injury in the third quarter.
Franklin's 5-yard run up the middle capped a 76-yard drive late in the first quarter.
The RedHawks struggled on the kicking game, with Mason Krysinski wide left on a 41-yard field goal attempt in the first half and the extra point kick partially blocked after Finklea's score.