As South Carolina and Missouri dueled back and forth amidst a deluge of rain and lightning to decide who would emerge victorious, the game ultimately came down to the leg of South Carolina’s kicker, and he followed through for the Gamecocks.
Despite being the shortest field goal attempt of the day for Parker White, the 33-yard field goal to win the game bore more weight to many players than any routine attempt, or even a walk-off winner to a normal game.
The kick capped off a resilient effort from the Gamecocks as they dealt with starting a backup quarterback and a barrage of extreme weather conditions.
The anxiety in Williams-Brice Stadium was palpable as White lined up to kick, knowing that a miss would mean three straight conference losses for the Gamecocks.
But White knocked the kick straight through the uprights.
“I’ll say that my mind was pretty clear,” White said. “I wasn’t really thinking about it too much ... I just didn’t want to overthink it. That’s the last thing you really want to do in that situation ... you want it to seem as smooth and natural as possible.”
After an up and down performance in 2017, White reflected on how much he'd grown since he found himself in a similar pinch last season.
“To be in that situation before against Louisiana Tech last year definitely kind of helped me through that and just kind of realize that every kick's the same,” White said. “It could be for the win, it could be in a blowout. No matter how far it is, every kick's the same, so you just got to keep it consistent with that.”
The final kick sealed the game for South Carolina, but it also capped off an abnormal game in the special teams department for both squads.
In a game that featured a blocked punt for both teams, a missed chip shot field goal, a fake field goal and a go-ahead 57-yard field goal with under three minutes to play, White found some poetic justice in the game being won by the foot of a kicker.
“It was sort of like a realization like ‘Here we go again’ ... I have to mentally prepare myself to go out there and kick one more time,” White said after seeing Missouri’s kicker bang home a 57 yarder to give the Tigers the late lead. “It was good to see that go in it made me realize that I’m going to have a chance to go down there and kick one, because I knew [quarterback Michael Scarnecchia] was going to lead the offense down. I had 100 percent confidence in them.”