Ray breaks program's storied sack record in win over Kentucky
By ALEX SCHIFFER
College Contributor Network
Missouri's 20-10 win over Kentucky on Saturday ended with a piece of history. On the final play of the game, Tigers junior defensive end Shane Ray sacked Wildcats quarterback Patrick Towles to give him 12 sacks on the season, breaking the program record of 11.5, previously held by Aldon Smith and Michael Sam.
"I'm just happy for him," Tigers head coach Gary Pinkel said. "Shane's such a team player. He's a very good leader. Our players have great respect for him and he performs at this high level all the time. He's asking everyone to do it but he's doing it too so he's leading by example. They love the guy because he loves the team."
Ray celebrated the history-making sack by pretending to swing an imaginary baseball bat as a part of his celebration. The Kansas City native said after the game that the swing was done spontaneously since he doesn't have a regular sack celebration.
"During the game I didn't know if I was going to get it or not," Ray said. "So when I did get it I was kind of like, 'Do something.'"
The record has been a goal of Ray's since he came to Missouri, hoping to stand out from the long line of famous defensive linemen that have come through the program Ray's linemate Markus Golden calls "D-Line Zou."
"When you open the doors and go into the defensive line room there's jerseys of the top defensive lineman that have come through here," Ray said. "Aldon Smith, Sheldon Richardson, so to be able to do something as prestigious as break Aldon and Mike's record, it's amazing."
After the game Ray found his mother, Sebrina Johnson in the stands and embraced her before heading into the locker room where he was mobbed by his teammates. Ray is considered one of Missouri's toughest players but admitted after the game he had a bit of a struggle controlling his emotions.
"I almost shed a couple tears," he said. "My mom shed a lot of tears. I saw her in the stands and jumped over there and she shed a lot of tears for me. It was a huge thing for her as well."
With the win over Kentucky, Missouri is now in the drivers seat for the division title after Florida upset Georgia to give the Bulldogs their second loss in conference play. If the Tigers can run the table during their final three games, they will repeat as Southeastern Conference East Division champions.
As for Ray, now that he has the record, he has no thoughts on how many sacks he'd like to add to it before the end of the season. His only focus is Missouri's next game against Texas A&M on Nov. 15.
"I'm just going to keep going," Ray said. "And when the end of the season comes we'll talk about the numbers. But right now I'm just focused on being as dominant as I can be."
Alex Schiffer is a sophomore journalism student at the University of Missouri and hails from Westfield, New Jersey. Follow him on Twitter: @TheSchiffMan