Missouri coach revels in OT win with a lightsaber

Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz reveled in his team’s 24-23 overtime win over visiting Florida on Saturday, ending his news conference by trolling Gators coach Dan Mullen.

Last Halloween, Mullen dressed up as Star Wars villain Darth Vader after Florida beat Missouri in Gainesville, speaking to reporters postgame in full costume.

On Saturday night, Drinkwitz paused before he left the assembled media in Columbia. He then lifted the hood of his black sweatshirt over his head and pulled a toy lightsaber out from behind the podium.

“May the force be with you,” Drinkwitz said, repeating the famous line from the Star Wars movie franchise.

Drinkwitz’s Tigers trailed Florida three times in regulation only to score in the fourth quarter and force the game into overtime.

During the first overtime, Florida scored a touchdown on a trick play and kicked a successful extra point. Missouri then scored a touchdown of its own on a Tyler Badie 13-yard run. But rather than try to tie the score with an extra point, Drinkwitz opted to go for two and the win.

Drinkwitz dialed up a successful pass from quarterback Connor Bazelak to tight end Daniel Parker Jr. for the walk-off victory.

Missouri improved to 6-5, while Florida dropped to 5-6.

It was the Gators’ fourth straight loss against a Power 5 team. Florida is 5-9 in its past 14 games, dating back to last season, prompting questions about the long-term viability of Mullen remaining the head coach.

Mullen, who signed a contract extension in June, lamented “way too many mental mistakes” against Missouri and how his team committed nine penalties compared to the Tigers’ four.

“We have to be mentally tougher,” he said. “And that’s on the coaches … and our preparation.”

Florida will seek to avoid finishing the season below .500 when it hosts rival Florida State next Saturday.

Mullen was asked by a reporter whether he still wants to be the head coach at Florida.

“Yeah, I love being the coach of the Gators,” he said. “We’re giving it everything we have every single week.”

Mullen praised the attitude of the players and their work ethic all season.

He lamented how Saturday marked seven straight losses in games decided by a touchdown or less.

“It’s pretty unfortunate and it’s tough,” Mullen said. “It’s a play here and there. I’m looking at our guys, and that’s on us.”

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