COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -Senior Day was a gut-wrenching experience for Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, who fought back tears as he hugged all 20 of his outgoing players.
``Seven minutes into the game,'' Pinkel recalled, ``I'm still trying to get a hold of myself.''
It was much worse for running back Tony Temple, who sprinted off the field after a successful home finale and hopped into a car to drive to his grandmother's funeral.
``It was probably one of the hardest games I've ever played in mentally,'' Temple said. ``It was tough.''
If the sixth-ranked Tigers (9-1, 5-1 Big 12) have their way, Temple will get a second Senior Day send-off next fall. The school is seeking a medical redshirt granting a fifth season of eligibility for their leading rusher.
``It would be nice,'' Pinkel said. ``We're preparing our materials that we would have to send to the NCAA for the appeal.''
Missouri's case hinges on Temple's extremely limited play as a freshman in 2004, although it's a bit unique because the game he played in came late in the season rather than at the start.
Temple is hopeful for a bonus season to build his resume.
``That would be great to have another opportunity, but I'm not sure how that's going to end up,'' Temple said. ``I've got wait until this year's over and then we'll see what goes on.''
Temple made his debut against Nebraska to replace the late Damien Nash, who had been suspended for disciplinary reasons. He had six carries for 13 yards in the eighth game of the season before sustaining a season-ending ankle injury.
``The coaches made the decision at the time that they wanted me to play,'' Temple said. ``I was ready. That was my year.
``Unfortunately, I got hurt and that was it.''
M brought out his best effort of 2007, 141 yards and a 44-yard scoring run that is the school's longest of the season.
During the game, instead of paying attention to the game clock, he found himself watching the real-time minutes crawl past.
``I was like 'Please, stay inbound, everybody stay inbound,''' Temple said. ``I wanted to take care of business with my team, my other family, and be with my family during this tough time.
``As soon as the game was over I ran off the field so I could get home. It was good carrying a win with me.''
Teammates were not surprised that Temple played so well and ran so hard.
``It's Tony, he's Superman,'' quarterback Chase Daniel said. ``I think football for guys that are worrying about family and stuff like that, it's an escape for them.''
Just like hitting the hole, Temple said he made it back to Kansas City, Mo., just in time to join the funeral procession.
``It ended up perfect,'' he said. ``I got a chance to see my family and say goodbye to my grandma.''
Now, the school wants another chance for Temple, who has endured another injury-plagued season thus far. He missed nearly three full games with an ankle injury, although he has two other 100-yard rushing efforts against Mississippi and Illinois State.
M game seemed to be an indication he's ready for the big push to the finish.
``Just a great effort,'' Pinkel said. ``He looked like he was feeling 100-percent healthy, too. When he plays like that, he's a different player, a high-level player.''
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