Missouri scored twice on defense, including a 100-yard interception return by Ronnell Perkins, in the Tigers’ 34-14 win over South Carolina on Saturday afternoon in Columbia, Mo.
Missouri (3-1) won its SEC opener as quarterback Kelly Bryant accounted for 304 yards in total offense. Bryant, a Clemson graduate transfer, completed 19 of 33 passes for 227 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, also rushing for 77 yards on 17 carries.
South Carolina (1-3, 0-2 SEC) rushed for only 16 yards, and true freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski completed 13 of 30 passes for 166 yards. The Gamecocks had only 65 offensive plays compared to 87 for Missouri.
Hilinski’s interception came on the 14th play of a third-quarter drive that covered 72 yards to the Missouri 3. Instead of potentially trimming the lead to 24-21, South Carolina trailed 31-14 after Perkins’ return with 5:43 left in the third quarter.
The previous Missouri record for an interception return was 99 yards by Marcus King against South Carolina in the 2005 Independence Bowl.
The Gamecocks were held to only 30 yards of offense in the first half as Missouri built a 17-7 lead. Hilinski completed only 4 of 15 passes for 3 yards in the half.
The Tigers took advantage of the Gamecocks’ struggling offense, scoring on a fumble by Hilinksi near the goal line. After his pass was batted in the air by defensive end Chris Turner, Hilinski grabbed the ball and threw it to the turf, thinking the play would be ruled an incomplete pass. However, it was a catch and a fumble.
Cale Garrett recovered the ball in the end zone for the touchdown, giving Missouri a 7-0 lead with 8:31 left in the first quarter.
A Missouri turnover later resulted in a touchdown for South Carolina. Bryant’s pass was intercepted by D.J. Wonnum, who returned the ball 21 yards to Missouri 1. One play later, Rico Dowdle ran the ball into the end zone to cut the lead to 10-7 with 9:35 left in the first half.
Bryant completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Albert Okwuegbunam with 4:06 remaining in the half to increase Missouri’s lead to 17-7.
—Field Level Media