COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Deebo Samuel ran for two touchdowns to help South Carolina cruise to a 31-13 victory over Missouri on Saturday night in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
Missouri (1-1, 0-1) led 10-0 early in the second quarter when tight end Jason Reese slipped past linebacker T.J. Brunson, hauled in a Drew Lock pass and outran his pursuers. South Carolina (2-0, 1-0) trailed for only 30 seconds. Samuel returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown — his second TD return in two weeks. After the Gamecocks’ Jamyest Williams intercepted Lock, Samuel struck again, scoring on a 25-yard jet sweep. Samuel finished with five catches for 45 yards.
“It was an outstanding team win,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said. “We answered offensively, we answered in special teams, we played great red-zone defense.”
Jake Bentley was 18 of 28 for 187 yards passing and threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Hurst to stretch South Carolina’s lead to 21-10 midway through the third quarter. Hurst added a 2-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.
Lock had 245 yards passing and a touchdown, but was intercepted twice.
“Our margin of error is absolutely zero,” Missouri coach Barry Odom said. “If we don’t win the turnover margin and play horrific on special teams, we won’t have a chance.”
South Carolina: For the second straight week, the Gamecocks won a game in which they were outgained from scrimmage. Missouri outgained South Carolina 423-359, but the Gamecocks were plus-three in turnovers and allowed Samuel’s big kickoff return. South Carolina beat North Carolina State 35-28 last week despite being outgained 504-246.
Missouri: Missouri running back Damarea Crockett was having a big night until he jogged off the field with an injury in the third quarter and did not return. The nature of the injury wasn’t immediately revealed. He finished with 18 carries for 97 yards.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks will face another SEC East opponent when Kentucky visits next Saturday.
Missouri: The Tigers face Purdue at home on Saturday.
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