University of South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw rallied his team from a 17-0 deficit on the road against the fifth-ranked team in America – and then tossed a game-tying touchdown on fourth down in overtime to keep his team’s hopes alive.
One missed Missouri field goal later and Shaw’s Gamecocks (6-2, 4-2 SEC) were celebrating an improbable victory that keeps their SEC East championship hopes alive.
“God was smiling on the Gamecocks,” USC head coach Steve Spurrier said.
Amen to that …
Shaw completed 20 of 29 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns in relief of starter Dylan Thompson – who played reasonably well but was unable to lead his team on scoring drives during the first two-and-a-half quarters of the game. Thompson finished completing 15 of 27 passes for 222 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.
Shaw won’t improve on his 22-5 record as a starter – but he flat out won this game for his team, connecting on deep pass after deep pass against a Missouri defense that had successfully taken those reads away from Thompson.
None of Shaw’s throws was more clutch than the fourth-and-goal completion to wide receiver Bruce Ellington in the first overtime from fifteen yards away.
Ellington – one of many Gamecocks playing injured – caught 10 passes for 131 yards. Running back Mike Davis also caught 10 passes – including several clutch receptions on South Carolina’s game-tying drive in regulation. Davis finished with 99 receiving yards – more than doubling up his season-low 51 rushing yards.
Davis also lost a pair of fumbles – which helped Missouri (7-1, 3-1 SEC) build its big early lead. The Tigers – playing their second game without starting quarterback James Franklin – still control their own destiny in the SEC East with games against Tennessee (home), Kentucky (road), Ole Miss (road) and Texas A&M (home) left to play.
South Carolina has home games against Mississippi State and Florida remaining on its conference schedule.
Prior to Saturday’s loss, Missouri had defeated each of its 2013 opponents by fifteen points or more – including back-to-back wins over then-No. 7 Georgia and then-No. 22 Florida. They were well on their way to extending that streak – and their dream season – until Shaw got the Gamecocks going against a stingy defense led by national sack leader Michael Sam.
Speaking of defense, South Carolina’s much maligned unit held strong when it mattered – keeping Mizzou out of the end zone in the second overtime and forcing the missed field goal attempt by Tigers’ kicker Andrew Baggett.