South Carolina knocks off Missouri in 2017 SEC football opener
COLUMBIA - The South Carolina Gamecocks (2-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) retained the Mayor's Cup for the second straight season with a 31-13 victory over the Missouri Tigers (1-1, 0-1 SEC) in both teams' 2017 SEC football opener.
With the victory, South Carolina evened the all-time series at 4-4. South Carolina has a 2-1 advantage in Columbia "West" (Columbia, Missouri) and a 2-1 advantage in Columbia "East" (Columbia, South Carolina) 2-1, while Mizzou leads 2-0 in neutral site games.
South Carolina lead 14-10 at halftime following a wild sequence at the start of the second quarter in which the teams scored three times in 30 seconds.
Missouri had a 10-0 lead with 13:07 left in the first half on a 61-yard TD pass from junior quarterback Drew Lock to senior tight end Jason Reese. Deebo Samuel took the ensuing kickoff back 97 yards, his second 97-yard kickoff return in as many weeks, for a South Carolina TD to make the score 10-7 Mizzou. Lock threw an interception on Mizzou's first play from scrimmage following the first Samuel TD and Samuel promptly scored on a 25-yard run on the Gamecocks' first play after the INT.
Tucker McCann had a chance to cut the South Carolina lead to one with 1:12 left in the half, but his 25-yard field goal attempt was blocked.
The Gamecocks struck first in the second half, marching down the field in nine plays after starting at their own 20 and scoring on a 39-yard TD pass from sophomore QB Jake Bentley to junior TE Hayden Hurst to put South Carolina up 21-10.
Mizzou’s quick strike offense answered back, moving 73 yards in 2:04 prior to a 22-yard field goal by McCann to get the Tigers within eight. On the ensuing drive, the Gamecocks chewed more clock on an 11-play drive that took 6:06 ending in a 32-yard field goal by Alexander Woznick.
The Tigers had a chance to get back into the game after the defense forced a three-and-out deep in South Carolina territory, but Johnathon Johnson muffed the Gamecocks punt and South Carolina recovered at the Mizzou 44.
South Carolina took advantage of the turnover and punched in the game’s dagger going up 31-13 after Hurst took an end-around, broke a few tackles and burst into the endzone for a two-yard TD run with 10:25 left in regulation.
The teams traded possessions the remainder of the game, as the Gamecocks ultimately went back to "Columbia East" victorious.
[AUTHOR'S NOTE: Some of the content of this article has appeared in the live blog of this game; some of it is verbatim, some has been altered to reflect the outcome of the game.]