South Carolina erases early deficit, beats Missouri 31-13
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- South Carolina spent the last week watching Missouri's explosive offense on film. The Gamecocks made sure they didn't have to witness a scoring frenzy in person.
South Carolina erased an early deficit with two Deebo Samuel touchdowns in a 30-second span, and the defense took care of the rest in a 31-13 victory Saturday night in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
"It was an outstanding team win," South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said. "We answered offensively, we answered in special teams, we played great red-zone defense."
Missouri (1-1, 0-1) had scored 72 points and gained a program-record 815 yards in its season-opening victory over FCS opponent Missouri State. South Carolina (2-0, 1-0) held quarterback Drew Lock and his receivers in check and dominated the kicking game.
The Gamecocks intercepted Lock twice. They also recovered a muffed punt and finished plus-three in turnover margin.
"Our margin of error is absolutely zero," Missouri coach Barry Odom said. "If we don't win the turnover margin and play horrific on special teams, we won't have a chance."
Missouri opened a 10-0 lead in the second quarter when tight end Jason Reese slipped past linebacker T.J. Brunson, hauled in a Lock pass and outran his pursuers.
South Carolina trailed for only 30 seconds. Samuel returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown -- his second TD return in two weeks. After the Gamecocks' Jamyest Williams intercepted Lock, Samuel struck again, scoring on a 25-yard jet sweep.
"I've been telling Coach, `Whenever you give me the ball, I'll try to put it in the end zone,' " Samuel said.
Odom said he thought kicker Tucker McCann could knock the ball out of the end zone for a touchback, but on the fateful kick to Samuel, the ball only reached the 3-yard line.
South Carolina's Jake Bentley completed 18 of 28 passes for 187 yards and one touchdown pass. Samuel had five catches for 45 yards. Tight end Hayden Hurst also had a productive night, catching a 39-yard touchdown pass and rushing for a 2-yard touchdown as the Gamecocks, who led 14-10 at halftime, pulled away in the second half. Ty'Son Williams led the way on the ground, rushing 14 times for 78 yards.
Lock completed 14 of 32 passes for 245 yards.
The Missouri wide receiver tandem of J'Mon Moore and Johnathon Johnson, who each surpassed 100 yards receiving last week, had minimal impact. Moore had three catches for 29 yards and dropped two passes. Johnson had no receptions -- he dropped a pass in the end zone late in the fourth quarter -- and muffed his only punt-return attempt.
"We had dropped balls all over the place," Odom said. "We're not going to give ourselves a chance to win when we play like that. Every game from here on out it's going to be a four-quarter game. We're not ever going to be sitting around at halftime eating hot dogs."
The Gamecocks, who won only one road game last year in compiling a 6-7 record, have won two games away from home after beating North Carolina State last week in Charlotte. South Carolina's next two games are at home.
"Really proud of our guys," Muschamp said. "We didn't play particularly well on the road last year. That's something we really emphasized going into this year and understanding that we've gotta win some games on the road to accomplish what you want to accomplish."
South Carolina: For the second straight week, the Gamecocks won a game in which they were outgained. Missouri outgained South Carolina 423-359. South Carolina beat North Carolina State 35-28 last week despite being outgained 504-246.
Missouri: Missouri running back Damarea Crockett was having a big night until he jogged off the field with an injury in the third quarter and did not return. Odom said Crockett suffered a bruised tailbone but should be available next week. He finished with 18 carries for 97 yards.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks will face another SEC East opponent when Kentucky visits.
Missouri: The Tigers face Purdue at home.