COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Freshman quarterback Jake Bentley improved to 3-0 as a starter, throwing for 254 yards and two touchdowns as South Carolina handed Missouri its 11th straight SEC loss 31-21 on Saturday.
Bentley showed poise, strength and accuracy in the pocket, completing 22 of 28 passes to lead the Gamecocks (5-4, 3-4 SEC) to their third straight victory.
The Gamecocks are in the midst of a rebuilding project with 78 percent of their roster consisting of underclassmen, but appear to be on the right track. Freshman running back Rico Dowdle ran for 149 yards and a touchdown and also hauled in a 17-yard TD strike from Bentley.
Drew Lock threw for 302 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions for Missouri (2-7, 0-5).
South Carolina didn’t let down after pulling a 24-21 upset of 18th-ranked Tennessee last week.
With the game tied at 21 late in the third quarter, Rashad Fenton intercepted Lock near the goal line on a deep ball along the right sideline. Bentley led a 98-yard drive, culminating in a go-ahead 20-yard TD run by Dowdle .
Bentley showed poise beyond his years in his third start.
Late in the first half, he took a sack on a second-and-goal at the 1 rather than throw the ball away. Rather than dwelling on the loss, Bentley tossed a 6-yard TD pass to tight end K.C. Crosby on the next play to give the Gamecocks a 21-14 lead at half.