South Carolina knocks off Mizzou in Tigers' conference opener

South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst, center, runs past Missouri's Ronnell Perkins, right, and Cale Garrett, left, as he scores a touchdown during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Missouri fans filled with cautious optimism that their football team would compete in its division might have to hold out a little longer.

South Carolina pulled away from Missouri in the second half and coasted to a 31-13 victory Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.

A game filled with anticipation of a shootout between two high-scoring offenses did not live up to its billing.

South Carolina started the game with a methodical drive, taking advantage of a Mizzou penalty on a third down and soft coverage from its corners. The Gamecocks drove deep into Mizzou territory, but had to settle for a field goal at the Tigers' 16 yard line. Kicker Alexander Woznick then drove his attempt wide left, and the Tigers managed to keep the visitors off the board.

Missouri took the momentum and marched down the field, largely thanks to its starting running back, Damarea Crockett. The sophomore carried the ball six times, and the Tigers drove down to the South Carolina 26. Tucker McCann responded and knocked in a 43-yard field goal and put the Tigers on top 3-0.

The team traded punts, and Missouri's defense, which had been embarrassed against FCS opponent Missouri State a week ago, looked like it had come to play. Mizzou took over at its 39 after a South Carolina punt, and tested the Gamecocks down the middle of the field for the first time.

It worked. Lock hit tight end Jasone Reese running straight up the field and he outran the South Carolina defense to the end zone. Suddenly, Mizzou was up 10-0 with all the momentum.

It was short-lived. South Carolina's kick returner Deebo Samuel, who had returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown in the Gamecocks' Week 1 match-up against North Carolina State, rinsed and repeated. A 97-yard sprint to the north end zone of Faurot Field put South Carolina on the scoreboard.

The Gamecocks kept their foot on the pedal and picked off Drew Lock on the first play of the ensuing drive. A handoff to Samuel and 26 yards later, South Carolina was in the lead for good. He raced into the end zone, putting the Gamecocks up 14-10.

Mizzou put together a drive at the end of the half and threatened to regain the lead. After the South Carolina defense stiffened up inside its own 10, the Gamecocks special teams made a play of its own. Tucker McCann's 25-yard field goal was blocked and the score entering the half remained 14-10.

From then, it was all South Carolina. Three scoring drives in the second half, including two touchdowns by Hayden Hurst, sealed the victory for South Carolina.

Drew Lock was intercepted twice, and Mizzou also committed a turnover on a muffed punt.

Mizzou falls to 1-1 on the season and will welcome Purdue Saturday, Sept. 16 at 3 p.m.

For sound from some of the players after the game, watch the clips below.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off