Rapid Reaction: Defensive scores lead Missouri to lopsided win against South Carolina
Two defensive touchdowns helped Missouri overcome a sluggish start offensively as the Tigers snapped a three-game losing skid against South Carolina and won 34-14.
Missouri safety Ronnell Perkins intercepted South Carolina QB Ryan Hilinski in the end zone and raced 100 yards for a TD to balloon the lead to 31-14 with 5:43 left in third quarter. It was the longest interception return in Missouri history, and ended a promising drive for the Gamecocks.
Turnovers were a key difference in the game as South Carolina had three to Missouri’s two, but Missouri’s defense converted two into touchdowns on its own. Missouri also held about 17-minute lead in time of possession.
Neither team was good on third down conversions as South Carolina began 0-for-6, and was only 2-for-14 late in the game. Missouri was just 8-for-19 with two minutes remaining in the game.
After the Perkins TD, Missouri stopped South Carolina on the ensuing drive and punched in another touchdown to go up by three touchdowns early in the fourth quarter.
The score margin masked what began as an offensive struggle for both teams. Hilinski, who made his first career road start, and Kelly Bryant each looked out of sorts as the SEC Network broadcast openly discussed if Hilinski was battling an injury.
One bright spot for South Carolina was the first play of the second half when Hilinski connected with WR Bryan Edwards for a 75-yard touchdown. That touchdown catch and run by Edwards equaled the longest play of the season, a touchdown run by Kevin Harris against Charleston Southern. It made Gamecock faithful quickly forget the woeful first half when South Carolina had three passing yards a week after Hilinski threw for 325 yards against Alabama. The first downs in the first half were Missouri 14, South Carolina 1.
But the Edwards’ TD was followed by a Missouri response that included a screen pass touchdown from Bryant to Tyler Badie to cap a 10-play, 75-yard drive.
As rough as the game began, it certainly had a pair of unusual plays.
It was a bizarre beginning as Hilinski had a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage, but he caught the rebound, and then threw the ball to the ground. After official review, the play was ruled a fumble as Missouri’s Cale Garrett scooped and scored on the play.
Bryant had his own play he’d like to have back in the first half. DL D.J. Wonnum appeared to confuse the Missouri quarterback as he moved in front of a pass, intercepted it and returned it 21 yards to the Tigers’ one-yard line. South Carolina quickly converted a touchdown.
Bryant recovered sooner than Hilinski as Missouri led 17-7 at halftime as the Tigers claimed a 247-30 edge in total yards. That came after Mizzou outgained South Carolina 78-9 in the first quarter.
Bryant found some offensive life with 4:06 remaining in the half as he connected with Albert Okwuegbunam for a three-yard score. That lifted him to 6-for-15 passing for 79 yards with one TD and one interception. He ended the half 10-for-20 passing for 120 yards.
Missouri is off next week, while South Carolina will play host to Kentucky.
“After further review, the second pass by the South Carolina QB was backwards.”
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 21, 2019
1️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ YARD PICK SIX 😱
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 21, 2019