South Carolina fell to 0-3 in the SEC for the first time since 2005 with a 24-10 loss to Missouri on Saturday.
Freshman quarterback Lorenzo Nunez, making the second start of his career and first in conference play, threw three interceptions in the third quarter and left the game in the fourth quarter due to a sprained shoulder. Nunez said after the game that he didn’t believe his injury was serious and that he expects to play next week against LSU.
Nunez will remain the starter if he’s healthy enough to play, head coach Steve Spurrier said.
“They’re the better team, better coaches,” Spurrier said. “I don’t think we coached a spectacular game today.”
Missouri barely outgained the Gamecocks (299 yards to 298) but controlled the game for most of the afternoon. Tigers quarterback Drew Lock, a true freshman making his first career start, completed 21-of-28 passes for 136 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Gamecocks’ offense was led by wide receiver Pharoh Cooper, who had 102 yards on nine catches. South Carolina rushed for 112 yards, and 60 of those came from Nunez.
A crowd of 66,751 witnessed the Gamecocks lose for the first time at Faurot Field.
South Carolina’s defense made two stops after Nunez’s first two interceptions of the third quarter but couldn’t do it after a third consecutive interception. The Tigers took over at the Gamecocks’ 31-yard line after Walter Brady intercepted Nunez and returned it 22 yards. Missouri scored a touchdown seven plays later on a 1-yard run by Ish Witter to take a 24-10 lead with 3:36 left in the third quarter. It was the Tigers’ first two-score lead of the game.
Star of the game: Missouri linebacker Kentrell Brothers was questionable for Saturday’s game due to an ankle injury suffered last week against Kentucky. It was a good thing for the Tigers and a bad thing for the Gamecocks that he played Saturday. Brothers had seven tackles and 1.5 tackles-for-loss and keyed a swarming defensive effort by Missouri.
Play of the game: South Carolina’s only touchdown was an 8-yard reception by running back Shon Carson, who alertly caught a ball tipped away from a teammate by Brothers. Carson’s score, which came with 9:20 left in the second quarter and tied the game at 10-10, was about the only highlight for the Gamecocks.
Stat of the game: The Gamecocks averaged 3.3 yards per carry. Their running backs, David Williams and Carson, averaged 2.65 yards per carry. Missouri, which entered the game averaging an SEC-worst 3.24 yards per carry, averaged 3.9 yards per carry and finished with 163 rushing yards on 42 carries.
Upset about officiating: Spurrier was unhappy with several calls after the game. “That’s not what beat us, don’t get me wrong,” he said, “but I don’t like those phantom calls … and we’ve had our share this year.” Spurrier mentioned a play on which Missouri quarterback Drew Lock was ruled down at the 1-yard rather than being flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone, a personal foul called against South Carolina wide receiver Matrick Belton in the first half and an offensive pass interference call against Pharoh Cooper in the second half. “I don’t know what the head official will say, if they’re good or not,” Spurrier said.
Rushing game gone: Starting tailback Brandon Wilds didn’t make the trip to Missouri due to a rib injury, and South Carolina could have used him. Williams and Carson combined for 45 yards on 17 carries, and Spurrier said after the game that his team would reevaluate its inside rushing attack.
History: Saturday marked the first time in SEC history two true freshmen quarterbacks started in the same game. Nunez was making his second career start. Missouri’s Lock made the first start of his career in place of suspended Tigers starter Maty Mauk.
Who: LSU (3-0, 2-0 SEC) at South Carolina (2-3, 0-3 SEC)
When: Noon, Oct. 10
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium
HOW THEY SCORED
MISSOURI 7, USC 0
Scoring play: Nate Brown 8-yard reception from Drew Lock
Drive: 11 plays, 51 yards, 4:09
Key play: USC’s Sean Kelly 17-yard punt set up Tigers at midfield
MISSOURI 7, USC 3
Scoring play: Elliott Fry 34-yard field goal
Drive: 5 plays, 32 yards, 1:25
Key play: Pharoh Cooper 35-yard reception from Lorenzo Nunez
MISSOURI 10, USC 3
Scoring play: Andrew Baggett 21-yard field goal
Drive: 11 plays, 72 yards, 3:29
Key play: Russell Hansbrough 24-yard rush
MISSOURI 10, USC 10
Scoring play: Shon Carson 8-yard reception from Nunez
Drive: 14 plays, 75 yards, 4:22
Key plays: Cooper three receptions for 22 yards on the drive
MISSOURI 17, USC 10
Scoring play: Brown 9-yard reception from Lock
Drive: 11 plays, 65 yards, 4:32
Key plays: Jason Reese three receptions for 32 yards on the drive
MISSOURI 24, USC 10
Scoring play: Ish Witter 1-yard rush
Drive: 7 plays, 31 yards, 2:41
Key play: Interception by USC’s Nunez set up short field