COLUMBIA — Backup quarterback Michael Scarnecchia engineered a game winning drive to lead the Gamecocks to a two point win over SEC East foe Missouri on Saturday. Parker White hit a game winning field goal with two seconds left on the clock to get the Gamecocks the 37-35 win.
Things looked dismal for the Gamecocks in the early going as they fell behind the Tigers 14-0 early in the first quarter. Fortunately for the Gamecocks they were playing one of the worst pass defenses in the SEC.
Scarnecchia was 20 for 35 passing for 249 yards and three touchdowns. The senior quarterback looked poised and confident for the most part in his first collegiate start. Scarnecchia did not throw an interception in the game and threw the ball to six different Gamecock receivers.
Bryan Edwards had seven catches to lead the Gamecock receivers. On those seven catches he had 73 yards and two touchdowns. Deebo Samuel had four catches for 88 yards and a touchdown, and Shi Smith had three catches for 32 yards.
The Gamecocks continued to struggle in the running game as Rico Dowdle and Ty’Son Williams combined for 36 carries and 104 yards. The Gamecocks also struggled stopping the run on the defensive side of the ball as Missouri rushed the ball for over 300 yards. Damage Crockett led the way for the Tigers on the ground with 154 yards. Larry Rountree also had a big day for Mizzou rushing for 90 yards on thirteen carries with 2 touchdowns.
The Gamecocks struggled to tackle defensively, and you would like to be able to blame that on the rain that was falling for most of the game at Williams-Brice on Saturday, but it was not raining at Kentucky last week, or in any other game this season.
Steven Montac led the Gamecock defense with nine tackles on the defensive side of the ball. Sherrod Greene had the biggest play of the day for the Gamecock defense when he picked off Missouri quarterback Drew Lock and returned the interception for a touchdown as a heavy downpour fell on the field. Lock, who is often referred to as one of the best qb’s in the SEC, was 17 for 36 passing for 204 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions.
Gamecock fans took to social media on Saturday evening and immediately started talking about the Gamecocks “quarterback controversy.” I don’t think there is a quarterback controversy in Columbia. If Jake Bentley is healthy I believe he will play. Yes Scarnecchia played well. He played well against a very bad defensive team. I still believe that Jake Bentley gives the Gamecocks the best chance to win on a weekly basis.
The Gamecocks were very lucky to squeak out this win, and I believe that without the rain they would have lost this football game. The wet field caused the Missouri receiver to slip that led to the pick six by Greene, the rain led to the Mizzou punter dropping the football that gave the Gamecocks a short field that lead to a touchdown. Yes, luck and weather conditions are a big part of football and they seemed to be on the Gamecocks side on Saturday.
My guess is Bentley will get the start this coming Saturday for the Gamecocks against Texas A&M, but after this past Saturday’s game the fans will start the Scarnecchia chants as soon as Bentley shows any signs of struggling.
Tyler Shugart is the host of “Bump and Run” from 7-9 a.m. on Fox Sports 1400 AM 98.3 FM in Spartanburg. He can be reached at [email protected]