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University South Carolina vs University of Missouri

Missouri Tigers quarterback Kelly Bryant, center, rolls on to his head after being tackled on a run in the second quarter during a game between the University South Carolina vs University of Missouri at Faurot Field, at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Mo. on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The last time Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant faced South Carolina, he led Clemson to a 34-10 victory, passed for 272 yards with two touchdowns and completed 23 of his 34 throws. Before Saturday’s game against the Gamecocks, Bryant made sure to tell teammate Jonathan Nance he was undefeated against the Gamecocks. After he stepped onto Faurot Field to face the same team Saturday, Bryant looked to be headed for a different result. Missouri’s offense looked discombobulated early. Four of Bryant’s first seven passes fell incomplete. He was dragged down for a loss on fourth and goal on the Tigers’ second drive. Mizzou was 0 for 4 on third-down conversions, and its only score of the quarter was a defensive touchdown that came on a bizarre fumble recovery in the end zone. In the second quarter, South Carolina’s D.J. Wonnum stepped in front of a Bryant pass meant for running back Tyler Badie and returned it 21 yards to the Mizzou 1-yard line. It was reminiscent of an interception Drew Lock threw in last year’s loss at South Carolina. “I was trying to press,” Bryant said. “I just had to take a step back and just breathe, because the biggest thing is to settle in, and I felt like I did as the game went on.” With the help of Mizzou’s dominant defense, Bryant eventually settled down in the Tigers’ 34-14 victory. Coming into game for the Mayor’s Cup, one of the keys for the Tigers was how they would react if and when things went wrong. The end of the first half showed signs of improvement as Mizzou tried to avoid a midgame meltdown. Bryant rushed for 30 yards on one series, marching Missouri down the field on a drive that ended with his 3-yard touchdown to tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. “It’s really hard for defenses to key in on it,” Okwuegbunam said of Bryant’s running ability. “Having a mobile quarterback that can extend the play is huge.” Bryant headed to the locker room at halftime with 120 passing yards and led the team in rushing yards with 75. Still, he knew he needed to adjust. Nance, who led the Tigers in receiving yards with 60, said his confidence in Bryant didn’t waver. “That’s part of football,” he said. “You’re not going to be great every play, so (the coaches) talked to him and he just came in calm and started making plays.” As soon as the second half started, Mizzou again needed to keep from falling apart after the Gamecocks opened the half with a 75-yard touchdown to trim MU’s lead to 17-14. “That’s hard,” Odom said of South Carolina’s quick touchdown. “That’ll test you a little bit. Offensively, we responded, and that showed a sign of maturity and that showed a sign of some mental toughness.” The Tigers’ response was a 21-yard screen pass from Bryant to Tyler Badie that resulted in a touchdown. “(After) that first play, we were like, ‘We’ve got to come out and just continue to fight,’” Nance said. “We were still up, so we just needed to go out and continue to do what we were doing.” Ultimately, it was Bryant’s legs that kept him going. He finished the game with a season-high 77 yards, in large part because of more designed run plays. “There’s been a couple (designed runs) built into the game plan the last couple of weeks, and we just haven’t needed to get to them,” Odom said. “Obviously, we needed it today. We tried to get every inch we could get, and that was a big part of it.” Badie said that having a quarterback with that kind of versatility paired with a strong performance by the defense helped Missouri stay afloat. Okwuegbunam praised his quarterback for how he stayed composed and helped the offense “get things together.” Bryant said he kept his cool with a simple strategy. “(I) just breathe,” he said. “That’s just been my little thing. Whenever I have a bad throw, a bad play, anything, if I’m feeling a little too anxious, I just breathe and take a step back for a second, gather myself and move on for the next play.” Bryant completed 19 of 33 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns. He wasn’t as accurate as he was in his last appearance against the Gamecocks but stayed undefeated against his home state team. “I’ve seen them pretty much every year that I’ve been in college,” Bryant said. “It’s good to finish on the right note.”

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The last time Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant faced South Carolina, he led Clemson to a 34-10 victory, passed for 272 yards with two touchdowns and completed 23 of his 34 throws. Before Saturday’s game against the Gamecocks, Bryant made sure to tell teammate Jonathan Nance he was undefeated against the Gamecocks.

After he stepped onto Faurot Field to face the same team Saturday, Bryant looked to be headed for a different result.

Missouri’s offense looked discombobulated early. Four of Bryant’s first seven passes fell incomplete. He was dragged down for a loss on fourth and goal on the Tigers’ second drive. Mizzou was 0 for 4 on third-down conversions, and its only score of the quarter was a defensive touchdown that came on a bizarre fumble recovery in the end zone.

In the second quarter, South Carolina’s D.J. Wonnum stepped in front of a Bryant pass meant for running back Tyler Badie and returned it 21 yards to the Mizzou 1-yard line. It was reminiscent of an interception Drew Lock threw in last year’s loss at South Carolina.

“I was trying to press,” Bryant said. “I just had to take a step back and just breathe, because the biggest thing is to settle in, and I felt like I did as the game went on.”

With the help of Mizzou’s dominant defense, Bryant eventually settled down in the Tigers’ 34-14 victory.

Coming into game for the Mayor’s Cup, one of the keys for the Tigers was how they would react if and when things went wrong. The end of the first half showed signs of improvement as Mizzou tried to avoid a midgame meltdown. Bryant rushed for 30 yards on one series, marching Missouri down the field on a drive that ended with his 3-yard touchdown to tight end Albert Okwuegbunam.

“It’s really hard for defenses to key in on it,” Okwuegbunam said of Bryant’s running ability. “Having a mobile quarterback that can extend the play is huge.”

Bryant headed to the locker room at halftime with 120 passing yards and led the team in rushing yards with 75. Still, he knew he needed to adjust.

Nance, who led the Tigers in receiving yards with 60, said his confidence in Bryant didn’t waver.

“That’s part of football,” he said. “You’re not going to be great every play, so (the coaches) talked to him and he just came in calm and started making plays.”

As soon as the second half started, Mizzou again needed to keep from falling apart after the Gamecocks opened the half with a 75-yard touchdown to trim MU’s lead to 17-14.

“That’s hard,” Odom said of South Carolina’s quick touchdown. “That’ll test you a little bit. Offensively, we responded, and that showed a sign of maturity and that showed a sign of some mental toughness.”

The Tigers’ response was a 21-yard screen pass from Bryant to Tyler Badie that resulted in a touchdown.

“(After) that first play, we were like, ‘We’ve got to come out and just continue to fight,’” Nance said. “We were still up, so we just needed to go out and continue to do what we were doing.”

Ultimately, it was Bryant’s legs that kept him going. He finished the game with a season-high 77 yards, in large part because of more designed run plays.

“There’s been a couple (designed runs) built into the game plan the last couple of weeks, and we just haven’t needed to get to them,” Odom said. “Obviously, we needed it today. We tried to get every inch we could get, and that was a big part of it.”

Badie said that having a quarterback with that kind of versatility paired with a strong performance by the defense helped Missouri stay afloat. Okwuegbunam praised his quarterback for how he stayed composed and helped the offense “get things together.” Bryant said he kept his cool with a simple strategy.

“(I) just breathe,” he said. “That’s just been my little thing. Whenever I have a bad throw, a bad play, anything, if I’m feeling a little too anxious, I just breathe and take a step back for a second, gather myself and move on for the next play.”

Bryant completed 19 of 33 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns. He wasn’t as accurate as he was in his last appearance against the Gamecocks but stayed undefeated against his home state team.

“I’ve seen them pretty much every year that I’ve been in college,” Bryant said. “It’s good to finish on the right note.”

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