USC FOOTBALL

Scarnecchia's 3 TDs lead Gamecocks to 37-35 win vs. Missouri

By EDDIE LITAKER
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 10/7/18

COLUMBIA - In a game that took 5 hours, 13 minutes, to complete and had more twists and turns than a Stephen King novel, the University of South Carolina needed the arm of senior backup quarterback Michael Scarnecchia and the leg of placekicker …

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USC FOOTBALL

Scarnecchia's 3 TDs lead Gamecocks to 37-35 win vs. Missouri

Posted

COLUMBIA - In a game that took 5 hours, 13 minutes, to complete and had more twists and turns than a Stephen King novel, the University of South Carolina needed the arm of senior backup quarterback Michael Scarnecchia and the leg of placekicker Parker White to pull out a weather-delayed 37-35 win over Missouri on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

After waiting out a 1-hour, 16-minute lightning delay to play the final 2:41 of the game, USC's defense came up with a stop only to have Tiger placekicker Tucker McCann nail a 57-yard field goal that put the Tigers on top, 35-34, with 1:18 to go and Carolina holding on to two timeouts.

The Gamecocks (3-2 overall, 2-2 in the Southeastern Conference) took over after the ensuing kickoff at their 31-yard line, needing at least a field goal for the win. Scarnecchia completed four of seven passes for 54 yards, including a 27-yarder to tight end Kyle Markway, making his first start since 2015, that moved the ball to the Mizzou 27 and a 12-yard strike to Bryan Edwards that put it on the 16. From there, White put his third field goal, a 33-yard game-winner, through the uprights with two seconds on the clock.

"Feels good," White said of kicking the game-winning field goal. "To be in that situation before against Louisiana Tech last year definitely kind of helped me through that and (I) just kind of realized that every kick is the same and it could be for the win and it could be in a blowout. No matter how far it is, every kick's the same. Just got to keep it consistent."

The Tigers (3-2, 0-2) had one last shot, taking the ball at their own 33, but quarterback Drew Lock's pass attempt to Jalen Knox fell incomplete, sealing an emotionally-draining Gamecock win.

USC head coach Will Muschamp was proud of his team for overcoming much adversity, including a headset malfunction that both coaching staffs had to work around.

"You're talking about a team that continued to fight regardless of circumstances going into the game, regardless of circumstances in the game," Muschamp said. "Whether it was a rain delay, poor play, poor coaching, whatever you want to call it, guys continued to fight. Makes you proud to wear Garnet and Black, in my opinion. Really proud of our football team to hang in there and do what you have to do to win games. That's what we do.

"... Part of being a Gamecock is continuing to fight and never quit. That says a lot about this football team. I appreciate the fans that stayed throughout . It was certainly as loud as it could be there in the fourth quarter and we appreciate them staying through a couple of rain delays. Hell of a day to be a Gamecock!"

Trailing 23-14 at halftime, the Gamecocks literally stormed back in the third quarter to take a 31-23 lead in a driving rain with an 8-yard Scarnecchia touchdown pass to wide receiver Deebo Samuel, a 42-yard White field goal and a 12-yard Sherrod Greene interception return for another score. Mizzou answered with a long drive but stalled and came up short on a 25-yard field goal attempt as USC carried that 8-point lead into the final quarter.

As the rains began to let up in the final period, a blocked punt would lead to a quick Tiger score early, with the Tigers coming up short on their 2-point conversion attempt. A bad snap on a USC punt attempt would then lead to a field goal that put the Tigers back on top, 32-31, with 11:01 to go.

USC would retake the lead with a 42-yard White field goal at the 6:23 mark and Jamyest Williams would have an interception literally fall into his lap, but the Gamecocks would come up short on a fake field goal attempt, with holder Bailey Hart being tackled two yards short of a first down.

Four plays later, a lightning strike within eight miles of the stadium would necessitate the lightning delay. The game was initially set to restart at 4:26, with a 42-minute delay, but another strike pushed the restart back to 5 p.m.

With a new quarterback starting under center for the first time in 25 games, it was believed that the Gamecocks would lean heavily on the run against the Tigers, but that never seemed to materialize as the run game would struggle to finish with 128 yards on 47 attempts.

USC closed the first half with 43 yards rushing on 17 attempts, with Crestwood High School alum Ty'Son Williams accounting for 39 of those yards on eight carries. The next highest Gamecock rusher was A.J. Turner with seven yards on four carries, and Rico Dowdle had minus-1 on three totes with Scarnecchia gaining four yards on his only rush of the half.

The numbers picked up slightly in the second half as Dowdle closed with 53 yards on 21 carries and Williams ended with 51 on 15 rushes, but USC couldn't keep pace with a Mizzou run game that closed with 286 yards on 46 attempts. Damar Crockett led the way with 154 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run, on 20 carries while Larry Rountree added 90 yards and two scores, on runs of one and two yards, on 13 runs.

Scarnecchia, pressed into his first start after Jake Bentley suffered a leg injury late in last week's 24-10 loss at Kentucky, completed 20 of 35 passes for 249 yards and three scores while adding four yards on three rushes, with a long run of nine yards. The Fleming Island, Fla. native completed six of his first seven passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns, on passes of 5 and 17 yards to Edwards.

Edwards hauled in seven passes for 73 yards while Samuel ended with 88 yards on four receptions and three yards on two rushes, with a long run of nine yards.

The three field goals for White were a career high while the two Edwards touchdown receptions tied a career high. Greene's pick-six was his first career interception and was USC's first defensive score of the season. Samuel passed Brandon Bennett for sole possession of 13th all-time in career receptions at USC and tied his career high with his third touchdown catch of the season.

Both teams ran 82 plays, with the Tigers outgaining the Gamecocks 490-377 in total yardage in a game that saw one tie and five second-half lead changes, including four in the final quarter.