Mizzou Tigers defense made sure there was no slip-up against South Carolina.
When Saturday’s game looked like it could take a turn, the Mizzou Tigers made sure to correct it.
Mizzou’s Ronnell Perkins picked off a Ryan Hilinski pass in the end zone and took it 100 yards the other way to mark a three-score game late in the third quarter instead of a one-score game.
The interception was pivotal, as it ended South Carolina’s best drive of the night, and eventually helped Mizzou win 34-14 and start the SEC off 1-0 for the first time since 2014.
Perkins’ pick came as Hilinski looked like he had turned the Gamecocks in the right direction. A sluggish start for the Gamecocks, Hilinski engineered a drive to the goal line, only to throw an interception behind 24-14. Had South Carolina finished off the drive with a touchdown, the game would have been 24-21. Instead, it was 31-14 for the Tigers — a 14-point swing.
The play pretty much ended hope for South Carolina, as it was a long drive that ended with zero points, meaning it needed three more of those drives while also needing to hold the Tigers offense.
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South Carolina was able to do that for much of the game, but even then, the Tigers made plays when they needed to.
The Mizzou defense gave up a quick touchdown to begin the second half, giving plenty of hope South Carolina was back in the ball game.
Bryan Edwards’ 75-yard score made it 17-14 just 11 seconds into the half. But Mizzou had an answer.
Kelly Bryant and the offense were able to put together a 10-play, 75 yard drive ending with a Tyler Badie 21-yard TD to put the Tigers back up 10. But Saturday’s win is mostly credited to the defense.
The Tigers gave up just 16 rushing yards, and the South Carolina offense was nearly nonexistent in the first half.
Cale Garrett scored his second touchdown of the year after Hilinski mistakenly threw the ball backward in a strange sequence. That was the first score of the game.
After Bryant’s costly INT gave the Gamecocks’ the ball at the 1, only then did the defense allow some points.
But the Mizzou offense had a solid drive toward the end of the half to give Mizzou a 10-point lead, capped off by an Albert Okwuegbunam TD from Bryant.
The offense did enough to win, and the defense did more than enough in a solid showing to knock off South Carolina for the first time in the Barry Odom era.
Tyree Gillespie had a huge game with two pass deflections and a sack. Kobie Whiteside added two sacks and Jordan Elliott had another. Akial Byers added a strip tackle and recovery in the third quarter to halt a Gamecocks’ drive.
Saturday’s win was extra special because it came against a South Carolina team the Tigers have had troubles against in the past. They now move on with a 3-1 record after the first month. More importantly, the first win in the conference.
Now, the Mizzou Tigers gets a week off before an Oct. 5 meeting against Troy.