Battle of Columbia: Gamecocks comeback falls short vs. Missouri Tigers
COLUMBIA, M.O. (WIS) - The South Carolina Gamecocks comeback vs. the Missouri Tigers fell short as they lost 31-28 Saturday night in Columbia, Missouri.
The ‘Battle of Columbia’ proved to be a good one as both teams had about a 50% chance to win, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.
Not to mention both teams eyed a bowl game in the critical SEC rivalry matchup.
The teams have mirrored each other’s seasons closely thus far -- they were blown out by Tennessee and Texas A&M but played Kentucky well in tough losses.
The game naturally came down to the final minutes.
It began with back-to-back interceptions on consecutive possessions by both teams.
After the defensive wake-up call, the Gamecock offense got rolling with the ground game. Kevin Harris eventually punched in a 1-yard touchdown. Gamecocks led early 7-0.
The Tigers answered the call in the second on a good-looking 12-play, five-minute drive. Connor Bazelak topped it off with a 2-yard touchdown toss to Daniel Parker Jr. to tie the game at seven all.
Missouri didn’t stop there.
With their foot on the gas pedal, Bazelak took advantage of broken zone coverage. He connected with Mookie Cooper on a 60-yard touchdown over the top of the South Carolina safeties. Missouri took their first lead of the game, 14-7.
Much like Missouri, the Gamecocks had an answer. On a third and nine, Jason Brown completed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Josh Vann. That tied the game once again at 14 with about four minutes in the second quarter.
Missouri stayed aggressive, calling timeouts to get the ball back before the half and it worked in their favor. On the first play of the drive, Bazelak completed a 47-yard pass to D’ionte Smith, putting them in field goal range.
The Gamecocks held strong ended Missouri’s drive in a field goal. The Tigers led 17-14 at the half.
Defense was king in the third.
So much so the first score came after half came via strip-sack by Missouri’s defense.
The ball was scooped up in the endzone for a Tiger touchdown extended their lead 24-14.
The momentum from the defensive six transitioned to their offense. After a solid drive, they scored yet another.
Missouri led 31-14 in the early fourth.
“There were certainly some times when we had some communication issues and turned some guys free that we shouldn’t have,” head coach Shane Beamer said. “Frankly, that shouldn’t happen in the tenth game of the season.”
The Gamecocks sneaked in another touchdown with about six minutes left in the game. Even more notably, on the ensuing Missouri drive, they picked off Bazelak at Missouri’s 14-yard line.
The Gamecocks almost immediately scored another touchdown, making it just a 3-point game with four minutes remaining.
However, they couldn’t stop the Missouri offense when it mattered most.
Time eventually ran out on South Carolina and Missouri won with a final of 31-28.
They will be back home in Columbia when they take on No. 16 Auburn next Saturday night.
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