Missouri’s offense stalled in the second half Saturday and took with it any hope for the Tigers to remain in the national-championship race after South Carolina senior quarterback Connor Shaw led a furious fourth-quarter rally and sparked an overtime win.
The previously unbeaten Tigers, 7-1, lost 27-24 when Andrew Baggett’s 24-yard field-goal try in the second overtime from the left hash hit the left upright after a high snap.
But the real story was Shaw, a senior who entered with 6 minutes, 46 seconds remaining in the third quarter and the Gamecocks, 6-2, trailing 17-0.
“It was an emotional lift from what I view it as a player,” Missouri junior defensive end Kony Ealy said of South Carolina’s subsitution. “We went out there and did the same things.”
Shaw, who suffered a sprained knee in a loss last week at Tennessee, didn’t start, but he led three straight scoring drives in the final 12:13 as South Carolina stunned a second consecutive sellout crowd of 67,124.
“I’m heartbroken,” said senior left tackle Justin Britt said. “How am I supposed to feel?”
Shaw’s first drive didn’t net any points, but he marched South Carolina 65 yards in 13 plays on his second drive, which was capped by Bruce Ellington’s circus catch on the sideline in the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown.
Baggett hooked a 47-yard field goal try wide left on Missouri’s ensuing drive, and Shaw helped make things interesting by engineering another scoring drive.
South Carolina went 69 yards in 11 plays and pulled within 17-10 on Elliott Fry’s 20-yard field goal.
Missouri’s offense, which managed only 99 yards in the third and fourth quarters combined, remained ineffective and went three-and-out, giving Shaw the chance to force overtime.
Shaw did just that with a 2-yard touchdown to wide receiver Nick Jones with 42 seconds remaining.
In overtime, Missouri seemed to find new life on offense and had no trouble finding the end zone on the first possession.
Junior Marcus Murphy did the honors on a 1-yard run for a 24-17 lead, but Shaw answered and forced a second overtime with a touchdown lob to Ellington on fourth-and-goal at the 15.
South Carolina took its first lead on Fry’s 40-yard field goal in the second overtime and won on Baggett’s miss.
“There were a lot of plays and a lot of different situations,” Pinkel said. “But at the time, that was obviously a big play.”
Murphy opened the scoring with an 11-yard touchdown late in the first quarter when he juked past South Carolina cornerback Victor Hampton before shrugging off Jadeveon Clowney’s high tackle at the 5-yard line for a 7-0 lead.
Twice in the second quarter, the Gamecocks drove into Tigers territory only to have running back Mike Davis fumble away scoring opportunities.
The first time, senior safety Matt White knocked the ball free at the Missouri 29-yard line and junior defensive end Markus Golden fell on the ball.
Davis had an even more critical fumble on the Gamecocks’ next drive. Tigers defensive tackle Matt Hoch pawed the ball from Davis at the 2-yard line.
Three plays after junior defensive end Kony Ealy’s fumble recovery, redshirt freshman quarterback Maty Mauk connected with senior wide receiver L’Damian Washington for a 96-yard touchdown.
It was Missouri’s longest play from scrimmage since a 98-yard pass from Pete Woods to Joe Stewart on Oct. 23, 1976, in a 34-24 win at Nebraska.
Freshman cornerback John Gibson picked off a Dylan Thompson deep down the Missouri sideline on ending a third consecutive South Carolina drive with a turnover. Thompson, who started at quarterback for injured Shaw, completed 15 of 27 for 222 yards with an interception before Shaw was inserted in the third quarter.
“I went over and asked him if he could play, and he said sure,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. “I said we had to make the move now. Dylan was just a little off here and there.”
Sophomore Andrew Baggett’s 27-yard field goal midway through the third quarter pumped the Tigers’ lead to 17-0.
Shaw entered on the next series and provided a spark on his second drive.
That spark ended up burning the Tigers.