Missouri scored 24 points in the first half of their 34-12 victory over South Carolina on Saturday at Faurot Field. The Tigers improved to 7-1 for the first time since 2013, heading into their bye week next weekend.
First Half Offense
MU quarterback Brady Cook passed for 138 yards and a touchdown in the first half. His passing touchdown came in the first quarter when he connected with wide receiver Luther Burden III for a 42-yard touchdown. The QB also made several substantial passing plays early in the contest. In the first quarter, Cook found WR Theo Wease Jr. for a 29-yard reception, leading to a touchdown for the Tigers on the next play. Toward the end of the first half, the junior found WR Mookie Cooper for a 23-yard gain. Burden finished the game as the leading receiver for Missouri with 90 yards and a touchdown. Cooper had 57 yards on six receptions.
The Tigers were also effective in running the ball in the first half. Kirby Moore’s offense went into the locker room with 156 rushing yards at halftime. Running back Cody Schrader recorded 102 yards and a touchdown. His lone first-half touchdown was for 10 yards, giving MU a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. The senior finished the game with 159 yards and two touchdowns. Cook added 45 yards and a rushing touchdown before halftime. He found the endzone on a 17-yard run to give the Tigers a 21-0 lead with 8:21 left in the second quarter. At the beginning of the second quarter, Cook scrambled to the right to gain 20 yards, putting Missouri on the South Carolina 22-yard line. The junior finished the matchup with 19 more rushing yards.
“We came out very strong offensively in the first half,” head coach Eliah Drinkwitz said. “The fact that we were able to score in three out of our first four possessions and jump out to a lead was nice to see.”
Photo Cred: KSTP (#12 Cook)
Preparation was a significant factor in Missouri’s strong offensive start, according to Schrader. The running back mentioned that the team’s practice during this week translated into early-game success.
“Everyone is really buying into the hard work at the line of scrimmage every day at practice and that’s exactly what you saw today,” Schrader said.
First Half Defense
Defensively, MU held UofSC’s offense to just 73 total yards in the first half. Gamecocks QB Spencer Rattler threw for 81 yards and completed 11 passes throughout the first two quarters. However, Blake Baker’s defense didn’t give up any rushing yards and forced South Carolina to lose eight yards instead. UofSC only scored three points in the first half, a 51-yard field goal by Mitch Jeter with a little over a minute to go.
The Tigers sacked Rattler three times in the first half. Linebackers Ty’Ron Hopper and Triston Newsom both had a sack early in the game. MU finished the contest with six sacks. Heading into halftime, Hopper and defensive back Daylan Carnell led the way in tackles with four total. Carnell also finished the game as the leader in tackles for Missouri, with seven tackles (six solo). DB Jaylon Carlies also had a great performance with seven tackles, including four solo.
Photo Cred: The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Much like the offensive side of the ball, Drinkwitz was very pleased with how his defensive group started the game.
“Coach Baker did a great job with our defense today,” Drinkwitz said. “It helped a lot that we were able to cause problems defensively and hold them down until halftime.”
Missouri will have a bye week before they head to Athens to face off against No. 1 Georgia at Sanford Stadium on November 4th. The time of kickoff is still to be determined.
Photo Cred: Sanford Stadium