Michael Scarnecchia had already maneuvered his South Carolina football team to the 46-yard line with 42 seconds left in the game Saturday and Missouri leading 35-34.
Perhaps a few more passes would get USC in position for a game-winning kick. It was a big spot to say the least for a first-time starter, and it seemed as if he might need that one big play.
With USC trailing, he got it.
“They were in a 4-2 front with both the Mike and Will (linebackers) up,” Scarnecchia said. “They only had two guys over to the right, and we were in empty, and no one carried him vertical when I snapped it. Both guys went to the left. I was like ‘Hold on a second,’ and I just threw it.’
On video, it plays out about that simply.
There are five defensive backs umbrellaed out. The numbers to the offense’s right look advantageous (three on two).
The six defenders in the box are notable because there are only five possible blockers in an empty set (no one in backfield except QB).
At the snap, Missouri sends five rushers, four from the box and a defensive back coming from a long way out. To tight end Kyle Markway’s side, the linebacker floats over as a third body to the left, but he goes to cover the No. 2 receiver, with a safety over the top.
That left Markway alone, streaking down the seam.
The 27-yard gain got USC to the Tigers 27, and after a pass to Bryan Edwards, USC was well in range. A Parker White 33-yard field goal lifted the Gamecocks to a 37-35 win.
The moment was a big one for Markway, an unsung player for USC. The redshirt junior was a solid prospect coming out of Missouri and appeared in every game as a freshman. But injuries limited him in 2016 and 2017.
He started this year as the No. 4 tight end, and was mostly playing because of injuries to K.C. Crosby and Jacob August.
And against his home-state team, he delivered.
“That was a fantastic call by Bryan (McClendon),” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “Mike put the ball on the money and to have Kyle make that play against the home-state school.
“That’s pretty neat.”