Navy jumped to a 6–0 lead with a 98-yard fumble return for a touchdown. But Missouri answered when Norm Beal intercepted Navy's Hal Spooner, rumbling down the sideline for a 90-yard return, giving Missouri a 7–6 advantage. They then drove 80 yards for a second touchdown, and led 14–6 at half.
Missouri's defense shut down the Midshipmen's running game, including Heisman Trophy winner Joe Bellino, forcing Navy to pass. But Missouri continued to run the ball, grinding it out for 223 rushing yards. After a scoreless third quarter, Missouri drove down 64 yards and capitalized with a 1-yard run from quarterback Ronnie Taylor. Taylor, who went 1 for 6 passing, threw for only five total yards. Down 21–6, Bellino caught a 27-yard pass from Spooner, and then made the two-point conversion, cutting the lead to 21–14. Missouri held on for the win. President-elect John F. Kennedy attended the game