COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Saturday’s game proved to be a tale of two halves for South Carolina.
First-half struggles ultimately led to changes that created second-half success, but it wasn’t enough and Carolina was defeated by Missouri 17-10.
“First of all, let me say this. Congratulations to Missouri,” said Gamecocks interim head coach Mike Bobo. “I know they were short-handed and a good win by them. They played well enough to win. Did a nice job. It’s a bottom-line business and we didn’t get the W tonight. We know we’re judged on wins and losses, but I want to say one thing. I’m proud of that team out there tonight. I’m proud of those players. I’m proud of those coaches. There was no quit. We’re short-handed as well, but again, like I said in the middle of the week, there are no excuses and those guys continued to fight. There was just adversity after adversity tonight, opportunities to fold in this ball game, but there wasn’t any quit in this team.”
South Carolina, already shorthanded, lost another critical piece early in the first quarter. After being sandwiched between defenders, Shi Smith was sidelined with an injury.
“Shi was ruled out,” said Bobo. “The trainer told me that about five minutes after he went down. I think it’s too early to tell what his prognosis is. I saw him in the locker room. He seemed in good spirits. He seemed cognitive of what’s going on. He was standing right next to me when I addressed the team. So, I think it’s going to be in the trainers’ hands. They’ve got to recheck and make a decision.”
With Smith out, the Gamecocks struggled offensively. In all, Carolina put up 68 yards of total offense in the first half.
Meanwhile, Missouri got to work. After getting great field positon on a Carolina punt, the Tigers drove 46 yards and capped the series with a 20-yard pass from Connor Bazelak to Tauskie Dove to put the visiting Tigers up 7-0.
In the second quarter, the Tigers extended their lead. Missouri put together a 6-play, 58-yard drive that was finished with a 1-yard scoring run by Larry Roundtree to make it a 14-0 lead.
The Tigers were able to add a 20-yard field goal by Harrison Mevis to end the half and the Gamecocks entered the locker room down 17-0.
Missouri outgained Carolina 212-68 in the first half.
Carolina switched things up in the second half by trotting out Luke Doty to start the opening series at quarterback. Doty and the Gamecocks marched 43 yards before making way for Parker White, who pushed through a 47-yard field goal making it a 17-3 game.
“We had a plan coming in that Luke Doty was going to play more in this game because we felt like he gave us an extra hat in the run game. We felt like all the man coverage would open up some seams for him to be able to tuck the ball and run. At halftime, we kind of went through things and talked about what we were going to do in the second half. As I was walking out, I made the decision. I said, ‘We’ve got to go with Luke.’ I felt like he gave us the best chance to win.”
Carolina found some answers in the quarter. The team put up 82 yards of offense, which was their best showing up to that point, but time was running out.
Meanwhile, the defense shut out the Missouri offense keeping the Tigers off the scoreboard while allowing just 140 yards of offense in the second half.
Still, the Gamecocks needed answers on offense. Carolina was able to cut the deficit to seven with under five minutes left to play. The Gamecocks used 13 plays and went 77 yards with Deshaun Fenwick punching it in from one yard out to make it a 17-10 game.
The Gamecocks went on to put up 215 yards in the second half with Doty leading the way.
Doty and the Gamecocks had one more shot to tie it in the final moments of the game. Driving from their 1-yard line, Carolina made it interesting, but Doty was picked off by Devin Nicholson.
Carolina (2-6) will host Georgia next week.