The Missouri Tigers’ woes continued on the road on Saturday.
Tied early in the third quarter at South Carolina, the Tigers once again struggled in all three phases down the stretch and lost to the Gamecocks, 31-21, in a Southeastern Conference game at Williams-Brice Stadium.
The loss, the fifth straight for Missouri, dropped the Tigers to 2-7 overall, 0-5 in SEC play and with three games remaining officially eliminated the possibility of reaching the six-game win mark and qualifying for a bowl game. The defeat was the 11th straight in league play for Missouri.
Sophomore quarterback Drew Lock completed 23 of 40 passes for 302 yards, with one touchdown and two costly interceptions.
Freshman running back Damarea Crockett ran for 82 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, while junior Ish Witter rushed for 80 yards and a score on 11 carries. Freshman wide receiver Dimetrios Mason, coming off a 100-yard performance a week ago against Kentucky, caught eight passes for 88 yards.
Both the Tigers and the Gamecocks are relying on several young players offensively, including true freshmen, but the hosts were the better of the two offenses on Saturday.
South Carolina (5-4, 3-4), which was coming off a 24-21 upset over then-No. 18 Tennessee a week earlier, racked up a season-high 428 yards of total offense against the Tigers.
Quarterback Jake Bentley, a true freshman, completed 22 of 28 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns. Rico Dowdle, another true freshman, rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries and added three catches for 20 yards and a touchdown. Deebo Samuel, a sophomore, caught nine passes for 125 yards and ran for a 6-yard touchdown.
It was Samuel’s touchdown run, midway through the first quarter, that opened the scoring on Saturday.
The Tigers answered with a 29-yard touchdown run from Crockett early in the second quarter, his eighth of the season establishing a new school record for freshmen.
After Bentley connected with Dowdle for a 17-yard touchdown pass — on a ball that bounced off Missouri linebacker Eric Beisel — midway through the second quarter, the Tigers answered with a 25-yard touchdown run by Witter.
South Carolina took a 21-14 lead into halftime after Bentley’s 6-yard touchdown pass to K.C. Crosby with 2:59 remaining in the second quarter.
It didn’t take long for Missouri to get back in the game in the second half as Lock’s 9-yard touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore tight end Kendall Blanton tied the score, 21-21, with 12:34 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers had a chance to score on their next possession, after South Carolina missed a field goal, but Lock’s deep pass was underthrown and intercepted by Rashad Fenton at the 2-yard line.
Missouri didn't score again.
South Carolina took the lead on a 20-yard touchdown run by Dowdle with 3:24 remaining in the third quarter and added a 24-yard field goal from Elliott Fry with 3:24 remaining.
Missouri’s Turner Adams and Tucker McCann both missed field goal attempts in the fourth quarter and then Lock’s interception in the end zone with 29 seconds left, his second of the game and eighth of the season, ended any hopes of a Missouri comeback.
Missouri host Vanderbilt (4-5, 1-4) next Saturday. Vanderbilt lost at No. 9 Auburn 23-16, snapping a two-game win streak, on Saturday afternoon.
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