COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw attempted 21 passes Saturday. He completed 20 of them.
Shaw moved the ball relentlessly against Missouri inside Williams-Brice Stadium, throwing for 249 yards and two touchdowns in South Carolina’s 31-10 win. Running back Marcus Lattimore tacked on 145 total yards and two touchdowns in the victory.
“I think it was evident we were a little stronger than Missouri,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said after the game.
The Gamecocks began to threaten early in the second quarter. Missouri punter Trey Barrow sent a low line-drive punt from his own end zone to the 49-yard line, where South Carolina returner Ace Sanders was waiting.
Sanders took it, was nearly knocked down by his own blocker, then darted down the right sideline toward the Missouri end zone, finally getting knocked out of bounds at the four-yard line. Marcus Lattimore ran it in two plays later, giving South Carolina a 7-0 lead.
The Gamecocks would break off several more long returns throughout the rest of the game, creating a short field for Shaw and Lattimore to work with.
“In special teams, we killed ourselves again,” receiver T.J. Moe said after the game. “They got a great return guy, but we made him look pretty good, too.”
The score wouldn’t remain 7-0 very long, as Missouri freshman running back Russell Hansbrough fumbled the ball in his own territory to end Missouri’s next drive. Shaw found receiver Nick Jones down the right sideline on the next play for 36 yards, with Jones tripping at the two-yard line. Lattimore then ran it in again, extending South Carolina’s lead to 14-0.
Missouri finally broke through with 1:20 left in the first half, when redshirt freshman kicker Andrew Baggett hit a 22-yard field goal to make the score 14-3.
Squashing any possible momentum, South Carolina answered less than a minute later. After Bruce Ellington returned Barrow’s kick 50 yards, Shaw connected on multiple pass plays to move the ball back into the red zone.
He capped the half by hitting Sanders for a touchdown, after Sanders had sprinted past E.J. Gaines off the line of scrimmage and darted into the right corner of the end zone. The Gamecocks entered halftime 21-3 lead.
South Carolina added to its lead late in the third quarter, when Shaw rolled to his right in Missouri territory and threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Rory Anderson, who was standing by himself in the back of the end zone. Shaw’s 19th straight completion extended South Carolina’s lead to 28-3. He would end the game with 20 straight completions, 249 yards passing and two touchdowns.
Corbin Berkstresser, who entered the game as quarterback for Missouri in the final drive, threw a touchdown to Marcus Lucas as the clock ran out to make the score 31-10. The touchdown was more than James Franklin was able to accomplish on the night.
Franklin, who missed Missouri’s win against Arizona State with an inflamed bursa in his right shoulder, finished the game 11 for 18 for 92 yards. He also ran for 34 yards on 15 carries, but the offense could never sustain long drives.
“We were so bad today offensively, we didn’t even put ourselves in a position to make plays,” Moe said. “And that’s hard to do.”
After beginning the season 0-2 in the Southeastern Conference, Missouri cornerback Kip Edwards was asked to assess the team’s level of frustration after its disappointing start.
“Frustration? Why? Why? Why?” Edwards said, getting progressively louder with each word. “There’s no sense of frustration. We have to practice better. If we practice better, it turns into wins. No need to panic. There’s no frustration.”