A first-time starter at quarterback. A driving rainstorm. A lightning delay. Too many momentum swings to count. A 57-yard field goal that gave Missouri the lead with 1:18 left. And a game-winning 33-yard field goal from Parker White with two seconds left that gave South Carolina the win.
Eventually, the Gamecocks topped the Tigers 37-35 in a wet and wild game at Williams-Brice Stadium, where 73,393 showed up for the start of the game but only a few thousand remained by the time it ended five hours and 13 minutes after kickoff. After Tucker McCann hit a 57-yard field goal to put Missouri ahead, senior South Carolina quarterback Michael Scarnecchia led a 53-yard drive in 1:16 to set up White’s decisive field goal. McCann’s field goal was the second-longest in Missouri history. White’s was the biggest of his career and may have saved the Gamecocks season from spiraling into disappointment.
“Wow, what a game,” said South Carolina coach Will Muschamp, who called it the wildest game of his coaching career. “You talk about toughness, that’s what you’re talking about. You’re talking about a team that continued to fight despite circumstances before the game and during the game. It ought to make you proud to be in the garnet and black in my opinion. Really proud of our football team. Hell of a day to be a Gamecock.”
The Gamecocks improved to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the SEC. The Tigers fell to 3-2 overall and 0-2 in the league.
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“I just told Keir (Thomas) it’s probably one of the craziest games I’ve ever been a part of even back to little league ball,” senior linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams said. “It was crazy.”
South Carolina didn’t lead until the 5:15 mark of the third quarter, and the game featured four lead changes in the fourth quarter alone. Missouri outgained the Gamecocks 490-377 and outrushed South Carolina 286-128.
“Our run defense really has to be looked at,” Muschamp said.
The game was delayed an hour and 16 minutes in the fourth quarter due to lightning.
Star of the game: Scarnecchia, who signed with former coach Steve Spurrier’s staff in 2014, made the first start of his collegiate career in place of an injured Jake Bentley (knee). The 6-foot-3 Florida native entered the game with 13 career pass attempts. On Saturday, he completed 20-of-35 passes for 249 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. “Amazing,” senior safety Steven Montac said of Scarnecchia’s play. “Sensational.”
Play of the game: Missouri had three touchdowns called back after replay review. The Tigers scored again after the first two reversals, but the third proved a turning point in the game. After it appeared Damarea Crockett had scored on a 70-yard run that would have put Missouri up 30-21, the ball was placed at the 11-yard line after officials ruled Crockett’s toe went out of bounds there. From that first-and-goal from the 10, Missouri ending up facing fourth-and-33 from the USC 34-yard line and turning the ball over when punter Corey Fatony dropped the snap. South Carolina took over at its 46-yard line and got a go ahead field goal on that drive. “That was a huge, huge possession in the game,” Muschamp said.
Stat of the game: Missouri had eight trips into the red zone but only got 30 points out of those trips. “We call that expensive territory,” Thomas said. “We get stingy down there.”
Bentley update: South Carolina coaches didn’t decide officially to keep Bentley out of the game until Saturday morning. “Jake was cleared to play today, but he would probably have been limited,” Muschamp said. “My biggest concern is always, ‘Can a player protect themselves on game day?’ and I had a huge concern on that.” Muschamp would not commit to Bentley being available for next week’s game against Texas A&M. “I will know more Tuesday of next week,” the coach said.
All hands on deck: South Carolina shuffled defensive players more than it has all season, especially in the secondary when true freshmen Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu got significant snaps at cornerback in place of senior starter Keisean Nixon, who had a horrible first half that included two 15-yard penalties and getting beat for a long touchdown. Freshman linebacker Rosendo Louis Jr. also played often in place of junior and defensive captain T.J. Brunson.
Penalty problem: South Carolina was flagged nine times for 83 yards, including four unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Missouri was called for 10 penalties for 83 yards.
Who: South Carolina vs. Texas A&M
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC
TV: SEC Network