Nov. 5, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Three turnovers forced by the Gamecock defense and a big day rushing by freshman Rico Dowdle led South Carolina (5-4, 3-4 SEC) to a 31-21 win over Missouri (2-7, 0-5 SEC) on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.
A forced fumble helped the Gamecocks get on the board first. Sophomore Steven Montac ripped the ball away from a Missouri receiver after a pass play deep in Tiger territory, and junior Chris Lammons recovered the fumble, setting up South Carolina at the Missouri 20. Four plays later, sophomore Deebo Samuel ran in the end-around for a six-yard score.
The Tigers and Gamecocks traded scores in the second quarter. Missouri had scoring runs of 29 yards by Damarea Crockett and Ish Witter, both of which tied the game. Freshman quarterback Jake Bentley had two touchdown passes in the period, hitting Dowdle from 17 yards out before finding sophomore K.C. Crosby for a 6-yard TD and a 21-14 lead that stood at the half.
Mizzou tied the game at 21-21 on the first drive of the second half, capping the 72-yard drive on Kendall Blanton's nine-yard reception from Drew Lock.
The Gamecocks stopped another Tiger drive deep thanks to Rashad Fenton's interception at the SC 2. South Carolina proceeded to take the lead after the team's longest scoring drive of the year, a 98-yard march. Dowdle's 20-yard run capped the series and put the Gamecocks back on top, 28-21.With 7:35 to play, senior placekicker Elliott Fry hit a 24-yard field goal to push the Gamecocks' lead to 10, 31-21.
Senior Chris Moody ended Missouri's hopes of a comeback with his interception in the end zone with 29 seconds to play.
Dowdle's 149 yards on 27 carries helped the Gamecocks control the clock.
South Carolina held possession for 36:10, wearing down the Missouri defense.
Fry hit all three of his PATs in the first half, the second breaking the school record for scoring, passing Collin Mackie's 330.
Bentley went 22-for-28 for 254 yards and two touchdowns in his third-straight start and win.
Samuel had nine catches for 125 yards, both career bests, while he scored his third rushing touchdown of the year.
Moody led the Gamecocks with 11 tackles, nine solo, while he ended Missouri's final possession with an interception.
Quoting Head Coach Will Muschamp
I'm really proud of our football team. Going through the week - Tuesday and Wednesday practice - I though the effort was really good. The mental intensity and the focus was dialed in. I thought we had a great Thursday and Friday. Then we came out here and came out of the gates pretty good offensively. It was probably by far our most complete game, making some plays when we needed to make plays. We were really successful in staying balanced and doing a good job in our run game. I thought Kurt [Roper] called a great game, as far as some shots down the field and Deebo Samuel goes and makes some 50-50 ball plays only a few of us can make on this earth. Really proud of (the offense) moving the ball down the field. They got a little tackle over set that gave some issues defensively and fit some runs pretty well. That was disappointing. The two runs on splits in the first half; their splits create space in your defense we honored it too much. We needed to stay in more to the box and that's on me as a coach. We'll get those things corrected. The tackle over in the second half was really the drive they had and fortunately their guy missed two field goals. But our guys kept fighting and kept hanging in there. Really proud of (our players). You know you're 2-4 and going into the open week and the negativity is amazing and the guys just keep believing and having confidence in what we're doing. That's what's happening here. Our work ethic and our preparation has been key. This staff has done a fantastic job. I'm really proud of them. Our young guys continue to mature and continue to get better. Dennis Wonnum, Keir Thomas and there's some guys on defense too that have continued to come on. A.J. Turner is the only injury we have. We think it's just a knee sprain. He'll probably be day-to-day. I think we're pretty healthy going into our next game.
The Gamecocks hit the road for the first time since September, traveling to Florida to face the Gators. Game time and television details will be released on Sunday.
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