No. 13 South Carolina falls to Missouri

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Even the Head Ball Coach makes mistakes.

Steve Spurrier was caught up in watching South Carolina's defense play a breakout game for nearly 53 minutes, holding powerful Missouri to 181 yards and 11 first downs while helping the 13th-ranked Gamecocks build a 20-7 lead.

That's why, Spurrier said, he didn't even consider going for two after South Carolina's final touchdown — a decision that proved costly when the Tigers rallied for a 21-20 victory on Saturday night.

"That was a mistake on my part," Spurrier said. "But it was a tough night for us."

Especially after Maty Mauk, ineffective much of the game, led Missouri to two touchdown drives in the last seven minutes. Russell Hansbrough scored on two 1-yard runs, the last on fourth down with 1:36 to go.

South Carolina (3-2, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) had a final chance, but Dylan Thompson threw four incompletions and Missouri ran out the clock.

It wasn't until later that Spurrier realized his strategic error. Still, he expected the Gamecocks' strong play on defense to continue.

"Gosh, we were stopping them so well," he said.

At least until Missouri's rally at the end.

"These are games," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said, "that change a football team."

Thompson threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Pharoh Cooper for South Carolina's final TD with 7:25 left in the game. But Missouri came right back.

Mauk had a pair of big throws —41 yards to Bud Sasser and 26 yards to Wesley Leftwich — to the South Carolina 1. Hansbrough then scored just 36 seconds after South Carolina's TD.

Mauk said that perked up Missouri and gave it confidence. Once the defense got the ball back from South Carolina, Mauk was pointing toward completing the comeback.

"We sat down as a group and said we have to finish. That's what we do around Missouri. Everybody bought in and brought everything they had for that drive," he said. "The offensive line gave great protection and when they needed to power through to get Russell in the end zone they responded."

When the Tigers reached the South Carolina 2, Missouri was stopped short on its first three tries for the pivotal score. Pinkel said the coaches decided to just run right at them, Hansbrough bursting through with 1:36 left.

Along with Hansbrough's three TDs, Marcus Murphy ran for 98 yards. Mauk completed 12 of 34 passes for 132 yards, but made his biggest throws at the most crucial times.

It looked as if the defense would win this one for the Gamecocks, holding Missouri to two first downs in the first 23 minutes of the second half and continually harassing Mauk into poor throws.

Missouri (4-1, 1-0) wrenched control of the division from South Carolina, which was the preseason pick to take the East and had taken down Georgia on this field two weeks earlier.

Instead, Missouri earned its seventh consecutive road win — two shy of the school mark.

Defensive end Shane Ray, the SEC sacks leader coming in, got two more against Thompson as the Gamecocks could not move the ball. They trailed 7-3 until Mike Davis' 17-yard TD run with 1:36 left in the half.

South Carolina's defense, one of the best in the league in the past years led by NFL No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney, came in next to last in the SEC with 36 points allowed per game this season.

But its pass defense — also next to last in the SEC — limited Mauk to 57 yards the first 30 minutes. Mauk, the SEC leader with 14 touchdown throws, ended the half 6 of 19 and missed on his last eight throws.

It was Spurrier's insistence on getting his attack started that led to Missouri's first TD. The Gamecocks went for a fourth-and-1 on their 42 on their first series, but came up short. Four plays later, Hansbrough ran for an 18-yard score.

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