Rapid Reaction: South Carolina wins wild, long one over Mizzou
In a game where the teams at times appeared to be facing a firehose, Parker White’s 33-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining pushed host South Carolina past Missouri 37-35 on Saturday.
Just moments earlier, Tucker McCann’s career-long 56-yard field goal after a long weather delay gave the Tigers a 35-34 lead in a topsy turvy game that saw a host of momentum swings.
Missouri’s new-look physical offense paid dividends early as the Tigers showed a multi-faceted rushing attack. But missed opportunities, especially in the red zone, caught up with the Tigers in the second half as they had several penalties and suspect run defense.
The Tigers didn’t waste any time against a vulnerable South Carolina defense as they outrushed the Gamecocks 94-3 in the first quarter. South Carolina backup QB Michael Scarnecchia, in his first college start, kept the Gamecocks in the game. The teams exchanged weather-related fumbles, missed field goal attempts and botched punts. At times, defenders avoided standing-water puddles to make tackles for a loss while spinning like an airplane in the mud.
A weather delay with 1:56 remaining forced the players and coaches off the field.
With a interception return for a touchdown late in the third quarter, and another interception with 5:35 left in the game, South Carolina fought to overcome a nine-point halftime deficit.
The Missouri offense piled up plenty of yards, 416 in the first three quarters, but the points didn’t follow.
Scarnecchia came in with 13 passes in his career, far fewer than his counterpart, Drew Lock, who had 1,277. Early in the first half, Lock passed 10,000 yards in his career.
South Carolina fans, disappointed with the team’s recent loss to Kentucky, warm temperatures and a noon kickoff, left gaping holes in the upper level of Williams-Brice Stadium early in the game. Those fans were chased to the concourse when the clouds opened later.
Early on, Missouri’s young wideouts filled in nicely for their injured senior teammates. Jalen Knox, a true freshman hauled in a near-touchdown on a 44-yard completion against Keisean Nixon to setup Missouri’s first touchdown. Nate Brown and Emanuel Hall didn’t make the trip as they’ve battled groin injuries in recent weeks.
Scarnecchia proved more than capable of running the offense as he began the game 6-of-7 passing for 102 yards. South Carolina’s run game was nearly non-existent early with 43 yards by halftime. Scarnecchia found wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards early for big plays and touchdowns. Edwards had two touchdowns in the first half, which gave him five TDs through five games, a career-best for a season. He has 13 career receiving touchdowns.
On a fourth down play in the third quarter, Scarnecchia wiggled out of a Missouri blitz, double pumped and converted a first down to Edwards. Scarnecchia capped an impressive 12-play, 66-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Samuel as the Gamecocks pulled within 23-21 with 9:34 left in the third quarter. That was Samuel’s fourth career touchdown against Missouri.
But as heavy rains fell, the Tigers responded on the ensuing drive with a 59-yard run by Damarea Crockett. It was initially ruled a 70-yard touchdown, but the call was reversed upon instant replay review as Crockett stepped out of bounds. Three Missouri penalties set up a third-and-35 play that resulted in a stuffed run. Then punter Corey Fatony botched the snap on fourth down for a 13-yard loss near midfield.
The rain caused technical problems to both teams’ headsets. Both offensive coordinators left the press box booth and coached from the sideline in the second half as an official regularly announced the game time remaining. The scoreboard clock stopped for a while too.
With about five minutes left in the third quarter, South Carolina took its first lead with a 42-yard field goal.
As the weather worsened, mistakes mounted for Missouri, and Drew Lock threw an interception from his own 17-yard line that South Carolina defensive back Sherrod Greene returned for a 12-yard touchdown.
Missouri’s Tucker McCann missed a 25-yard field goal attempt, which dropped the Tigers to 5-of-7 in the red zone, but with just two touchdowns. Not to be outdone, the Missouri defense responded with a blocked punt to start the fourth quarter and set up the offense at the Gamecocks’ 21. McCann responded with a 44-yard field goal to help Mizzou re-take the lead with 11:01 remaining.
The 23-14 halftime lead by Missouri could have been much wider if the Tigers’ offense hadn’t stalled in the red zone; that was an area where South Carolina’s defense showed some life. Overall, though, South Carolina gave up 321 yards in the first half.
On one of those first-half drives, South Carolina’s defense stood tall on third down near the goal line. Missouri had four runs of at least 6 yards. In the first half, Missouri averaged 5.3 yards per carry. Missouri also had a bizarre kickoff in the first half, which appeared to be an onside kick, but Barry Odom explained that it was a botched kick.