South Carolina fell 31-28 to the Missouri Tigers, unable to get the win in a back-and-forth game Saturday evening. Missouri dominated in the run game thanks to a big day from its senior SEC-leading running back Tyler Badie.
The game started quickly when the teams traded interceptions on the opening two drives. The Gamecocks rallied back to score following the interception from redshirt sophomore defensive back Cam Smith.
The drive was highlighted by a 25-yard strike from graduate quarterback Jason Brown to redshirt freshman running back MarShawn Lloyd. Junior running back Kevin Harris rammed in his second touchdown of the year from two yards out to cap off the eight-play 45-yard drive.
Missouri responded with two touchdowns, the second of which came on a 60-yard strike from redshirt sophomore quarterback Connor Bazelak to redshirt freshman wideout Mookie Cooper early in the second quarter.
Brown and the Gamecocks moved back down the field to tie the game on a 13-play-75-yard touchdown drive. Brown scrambled on third down and was able to find his favorite target, senior wide receiver Josh Vann, for the 25-yard touchdown with 4:28 left in the half.
The Gamecocks looked like they were going to tie the game going into halftime, but Missouri was able to scoot the field goal out and nail the 19-yard field as time expired to take a 17-14 lead.
The turnover battle was even in the game, but Brown’s third-quarter fumble proved to be the decisive one. Missouri took advantage of the mental lapse and recovered the ball in the endzone for the score which swung the momentum back to the Tigers.
Brown said the fumble was his fault postgame. “That was 100% on me. Coming out I called that play wrong,” he said.
Badie’s momentous day marked the fourth time he has carried for more than 200 yards this season and solidifies himself at the top of the SEC in rushing. Badie scored his touchdown early in the fourth quarter that proved to be too much for the Gamecocks.
South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer complimented Badie’s performance. “He’s leading the SEC in rushing for a reason. It’s not like all of a sudden he just came onto the scene tonight," Beamer said.
Redshirt senior running back ZaQuandre White brought some life when the game seemed to be out of reach. Brown found White with running room up the sidelines for the score to make it a 10-point game.
On the following Tiger possession, redshirt senior linebacker Brad Johnson intercepted Bazelak in Missouri’s red zone to set the Gamecocks up with great field position. White was able to score on a nice hesitation move from three yards out to put the Gamecocks within 3 points.
The comeback bid proved to be too little too late, as Missouri was able to run the ball and the clock out to seal the win.
Beamer said he was disappointed with his defense’s ability to tackle.
“We felt like one of the keys defensively was to gang tackle and we felt like we missed too many tackles,” Beamer said.
The numbers in the run game tell a lot of the story from this game: Missouri rushed for 258 yards, while South Carolina rushed for 57 yards.
Beamer addressed what went wrong in the run game following the loss. “It was a host of things," Beamer said. "There were certainly some times when we had some communication issues, and we turned some guys free when we shouldn’t have, and frankly that shouldn’t happen in the tenth game of the season."
The Gamecocks will host Auburn next weekend at Williams-Brice Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. and can be viewed on ESPN.