Missouri opened the fourth quarter with a 17-point lead and seemingly 15 minutes away from just about putting away the SEC East.
South Carolina QB Connor Shaw had other ideas.
Shaw, who didn’t start because of a knee injury, came off the bench midway through the third quarter to engineer a massive comeback and a 27-24 victory at Faurot Field.
The win effectively keeps the Gamecocks, one game behind Missouri, in the SEC East race.
Missouri had three chances to clinch a win, but blew them all. The last chance, first-and-goal in the second overtime, needing a touchdown to win, gave way to an opportunity to kick a short field goal to send the game into a triple overtime.
However, K Andrew Baggett’s 24-yard field goal bounced off the left upright, giving South Carolina a division-altering win.
Shaw’s performance allowed the Gamecocks to be in a spot where an overtime field goal mattered.
The senior entered in relief of a struggling Dylan Thompson midway through the third quarter. Shaw completed 20 of 29 attempts for 201 yards and 3 TDs. Two of those TDs – one in the final minute of regulation and another on fourth down in overtime – extended the game.
Thompson, who started a few games last season, went just 15-for-27 for 222 yards and an INT.
South Carolina started its frantic comeback on a fourth-and-4 conversion on the first play of the fourth quarter. Shaw hit WR Bruce Ellington to convert, setting up a 6-yard TD pass to Ellington later in the drive.
Missouri put together a drive to answer, but Baggett missed wide left on a 46-yard field goal.
Shaw led the Gamecocks directly down the field, but couldn’t connect with WR Jerrell Adams on a third-down pass from the Missouri 2-yard line. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier instead settled for the chip-shot field goal to pull to within one score.
The South Carolina defense then forced a three-and-out, stuffing Missouri RB Henry Josey on a third-and-2.
Shaw and the offense took over needing a touchdown to tie with 3:08 remaining. Shaw led the team right down the field again, this time capping it off with a TD pass to Nick Jones with 43 seconds remaining in regulation.
The Tigers scored quickly and easily on their first overtime possession. It took a 15-yard fourth-and-goal pass from Shaw to a wide-open Ellington just to allow South Carolina to live on for a second extra session.
Once there, the Gamecocks had to settle for a 40-yard field goal.
Missouri RB Marcus Murphy gained 17 yards on first down before South Carolina got a stop inside the 10. That set up Baggett’s nightmarish miss.
South Carolina’s Atlanta dreams are rejuvenated now with Missouri’s unbeaten season gone. It’s worth monitoring, though, what diagnosis comes on RB Mike Davis’ knee. The Gamecocks breakout star suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury on the final drive in overtime.
If Davis is seriously injured, it would be a huge blow for Spurrier’s offense.
For now, though, the Gamecocks can enjoy how Shaw put them back in an SEC East race that otherwise would have been over.