SEC Roundup: Mizzou goes for 2, downs Florida in OT; Gamecocks rally to beat Auburn

By: The Associated Press
Published: Saturday, November 20, 2021
The Missouri football team swarms Missouri tight end Daniel Parker Jr. after he scored on a two-point conversion to defeat Florida during overtime of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
The Missouri football team swarms Missouri tight end Daniel Parker Jr. after he scored on a two-point conversion to defeat Florida during overtime of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak heard boos from the home fans as he trotted to the sideline after fruitless drives Saturday. It was nothing but cheers after he lofted a two-point conversion pass to Daniel Parker Jr. to lift the Tigers to a 24-23 overtime victory over Florida.

“I’m proud of Connor,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “He takes a lot of criticism, he takes a lot of boos, but when we needed him, he stepped up.”

The Tigers (6-5, 3-4 SEC) earned bowl eligibility before their regular-season finale at No. 21 Arkansas on Friday at 2:30 p.m.

Missouri drew within a point on Tyler Badie’s 13-yard touchdown run, and Drinkwitz elected to go for two rather than send the game to a second overtime with a PAT kick.

Last week, Drinkwitz benched Bazelak for the last drive of a victory over South Carolina after he threw his second interception. Missouri fans sounded eager to see backup Brady Cook throughout Saturday’s game, but Drinkwitz stuck with Bazelak. 

The play-action action pass was designed to go to Badie in the right flat, but when he was covered and so was the second option, Bazelak turned to his left and released the pass to Parker just before getting hit.

Bazelak completed 15 of 26 passes for 165 yards and 1 touchdown. Badie rushed 27 times for 146 yards.

“He showed a lot of grit and passion for the game,” Badie said of Bazelak. “He came out victorious, too. The last play, the ball was in his hand and he delivered for our team.”

Florida (5-6, 2-6) got the ball first in overtime, and Emory Jones caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Trent Whittemore on a trick play to give the Gators a brief lead. Jones completed 20 of 32 passes for 261 yards and 1 touchdown.

“That’s our seventh straight loss in one-possession games,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said. “That’s on us as coaches to create the mental toughness for the guys to make sure we have the right guys in the right position to make a play when the game’s on the line.”

Missouri entered the game with the nation’s 118th-ranked defense, and Florida had yielded 92 points in its last two games. 

No matter. 

The defenses dominated in a stingy battle of field position and field goals. Missouri led 9-6 at halftime on three Harrison Mevis field goals.

Florida finally broke the touchdown drought on its first drive of the second half. Jones hit Jacob Copeland on a 49-yard pass to set up a Dameon Pierce 2-yard scoring run. Missouri answered early in the fourth quarter when Bazelak connected with tight end Niko Hea for a 41-yard touchdown.

Missouri missed a chance to take the lead with 1:04 left in regulation when Mevis — who had made 17 of 18 field-goal attempts this season — pushed a 46-yarder wide right. 

Florida responded by running the ball three straight times and punted. Mullen said he called a draw on first down to take advantage of Missouri playing the pass, but when Nay’Quan Wright slipped in the backfield and lost 4 yards, he opted to run out the clock rather than throw the ball.

In overtime, Drinkwitz opted to put faith in his quarterback to win the game.

“Everybody has the right to their express their opinions,” Drinkwitz said, acknowledging the booing of Bazelak, who has thrown 10 interceptions this season. “These young men are playing as hard as they possibly can. They’re not perfect. None of us are. The No. 1 quarterback requirement is: Ignore the noise. You can have one of the worst games you ever had, but with two minutes left, you’ve got to be a rock and you’ve got to believe in yourself. Connor’s doing that.”

South Carolina bowl eligible

COLUMBIA, S.C. — ZaQuandre White was South Carolina's leading rusher with 99 yards and top receiver with 69 yards as the Gamecocks became bowl eligible the traditional way for the first time in three seasons with a 21-17 win over Auburn on Saturday night.

For the second week in a row, the Tigers dominated early and jumped out to a big lead — this time 14-0 — but saw it evaporate as their defense suddenly lost its edge.

White had just three yards rushing at that point. But the Gamecocks (6-5, 3-5) scored touchdowns on their next two drives with White running for 37 yards and popping uncovered out of the backfield for a 28-yard TD on a fourth-and-3 that turned the momentum of the game around.

South Carolina's third starting quarterback of the season Jason Brown went 10 of 15 passing for 157 yards and 3 touchdowns, overcoming a bad throw that was easily picked off in the end zone in the first quarter.

Auburn (6-5, 3-4) lost its third game in a row even though Tank Bigsby ran for a season best 164 yards on 22 carries.

LSU transfer T.J. Finley made his first start for Auburn and completed 17 of 32 passes for 188 yards after Bo Nix was lost for the season with a broken ankle.

Auburn appeared to have one last chance, but a review of several minutes determined a South Carolina punt barley brushed Jaylon Simpson's leg with 2:11 to go and the Gamecocks ran the clock out.

Auburn saw a 28-3 lead disappear last week against Mississippi State.

South Carolina made a bowl last season with a 2-8 record, but it was canceled because of covid-19.

OTHER SCORES

No. 1 Georgia 56, Charleston Southern 7

No. 2 Alabama 42, No. 21 Arkansas 35

No. 12 Ole Miss 31, Vanderbilt 17

No. 16 Texas A&M 52, Prairie View A&M 3

No. 25 Mississippi State 55, Tennessee State 10

Kentucky 56, New Mexico State 16

Tennessee 60, South Alabama 14

LSU 27, Louisiana-Monroe 14


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