Once up 17-0, Missouri falls to South Carolina in two overtimes

Connor Shaw ruins Tigers' dream season

Missouri wide receiver L’Damian Washington runs past South Carolina’s Jimmy Legree (left) and Brison Williams (bottom) as he scores on a 96-yard touchdown reception during the second quarter of Saturday night’s game at Faurot Field.

Missouri wide receiver L’Damian Washington runs past South Carolina’s Jimmy Legree (left) and Brison Williams (bottom) as he scores on a 96-yard touchdown reception during the second quarter of Saturday night’s game at Faurot Field. Photo by The Associated Press.

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Just like that, the dream season is gone.

Missouri had one foot planted in Atlanta for the Southeastern Conference title game, holding a 17-point third-quarter lead. Then Connor Shaw happened, putting those plans on hold.

Held out of the starting lineup with a sprained left knee and an apparent illness, the senior quarterback entered the contest midway through that third period.

Shaw spearheaded a Gamecock rally, throwing for a last-minute score to tie the game before South Carolina pulled out a 27-24 double-overtime victory Friday night at Faurot Field.

“They did the things at the end to win the game,” Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said. “Obviously it’s a very, very disappointing loss for our football team.”

After trading touchdowns in the first overtime, South Carolina’s Elliott Fry hit a 40-yard field goal to put the Gamecocks up by three. Missouri’s Andrew Baggett missed a 25-yarder in an attempt to send the contest to a third overtime, handing No. 20 South Carolina (6-2, 4-2 SEC) a remarkable victory against No. 5 Missouri (7-1, 3-1 SEC).

“He’s pretty upset,” Missouri defensive lineman Kony Ealy said of Baggett. “He missed a field goal. It’s not just on him, it’s on the whole team. It should have never got to that point.”

Missouri still sits in first place in the SEC East, but holds just a one-game lead instead of a three-game cushion.

“We can still make it to the SEC championship,” Missouri defensive lineman Markus Golden said. “That’s still going to be our goal.”

After a shaky start, Missouri appeared to take control.

Maty Mauk’s second collegiate start didn’t feature the early fireworks that were present a week ago, as the redshirt freshman quarterback missed on his first three attempts to go along with an interception. He was a bit fortunate the other two didn’t get picked off. But his fourth pass finally resulted in a completion, a 32-yard strike to Marcus Lucas followed by an impromptu 14-yard flip to Bud Sasser.

Marcus Murphy capped that same drive, which covered 77 yards in nine plays, with an 11-yard touchdown run to put Missouri ahead 7-0 with 1:23 left in the opening frame. Murphy turned what looked like a sure loss of yardage into the score by breaking three tackles, including shrugging off a last-ditch attempt from the imposing Jadaveon Clowney inside the 5-yard line.

With South Carolina driving inside the Missouri 30 on its next possession, the Tiger defense did what it does best — forced a turnover. It was the Tigers’ NCAA-leading 38th straight game with one. Golden ripped the ball out of Mike Davis’ hands and recovered it himself, thwarting the Gamecocks’ scoring drive.

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Missouri forced a fumbled on South Carolina’s next drive after the Gamecocks drove to the Tigers’ 2. Matt Hoch forced Davis’ second fumble of the contest, with Ealy pouncing on the loose ball.

Missouri went for the home-run ball three plays later, as Mauk connected with L’Damian Washington for a 96-yard touchdown pass with 4:16 left in the second quarter to make it 14-0. It was Missouri’s longest play from scrimmage since a 98-yard pass from Peter Woods to Joe Stewart in 1976 at Nebraska.

Baggett booted a 27-yard field goal with 6:46 left in the third quarter to boost Missouri’s advantage to 17-0.

That’s when the tide started to change.

With quarterback Dylan Thompson and the South Carolina offense struggling, the Gamecocks then turned to Shaw.

Shaw’s strong play left one to wonder why he didn’t start the game, as he finally got South Carolina on the scoreboard with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Bruce Ellington with 12:13 to go in the game.

The game gradually kept slipping away from Missouri, exacerbated when Baggett missed a 46-yard field goal a few minutes later, keeping the Missouri lead at 17-7.

Shaw led the Gamecocks right back down the field, advancing as far as the Tiger 2 before settling for a 20-yard field goal from Fry that made it 17-10 with 5:03 left.

After Missouri went three-and-out, Shaw came up with a clutch game-tying score, hitting Nick Jones for a 3-yard touchdown pass with 42 seconds left to knot the score at 17 and force overtime. That capped an eight-play, 63-yard scoring drive.

Murphy found the end zone from a yard out on Missouri’s first overtime possession to give the Tigers a 24-17 lead. With the Tigers a play away from holding on, Shaw responded with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Ellington on fourth-and-goal from the 15 to tie the score at 24.

“They just made a good play out there and got it done,” Golden said.

Missouri hosts Tennessee on Saturday.


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