A crowd of 81,935 and a Jefferson-Pilot Sports television audience watched as the Gamecocks – one year removed from an 0-11 season – earned bowl eligibility and gave head coach Lou Holtz his first victory over the team he coached from 1977 to 1983.
The loss extended to seven Arkansas' winless streak in SEC road games. "We are
getting to thinking we are a little bit better than our players think we are,"
Holtz told the media following the game.
Quarterback Phil Petty directed a Gamecock offense whose four touchdowns drives
consisted of three three-play drives and a five-play drive and averaged 79 seconds.
Petty completed 12 of 21 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns. After a scoreless
first quarter for both teams, South Carolina scored on its first two possessions
of the second quarter. Petty connected with Brian Scott on a 23-yard touchdown
pass for USC's first score and found Jermale Kelly for a 13-yard touchdown on
Carolina's next possession. Reid Bethea missed the conversion kick following the
second touchdown and USC took a 13-0 lead into halftime.
"We had a good week of practice," Kelly said. "This was a special game for Coach
Holtz and we wanted to win it for him."
The Razorbacks were their own worst enemy in the second half. With 9:24 to play
in the third quarter, UA's Richard Smith muffed a punt return and South Carolina
recovered at the Arkansas 37-yard line. Three plays later, Andrew Pinnock gave
the Gamecocks a 20-0 lead with a 13-yard touchdown run. "I was determined to get
in the end zone," Pinnock said of his run. "The offensive line came through and
opened up a huge hole for me."
With UA starting quarterback Robby Hampton sidelined by a sprained thumb, Freshman
Zak Clark guided the Hogs to the USC five-yard line on their next possession before
the Gamecocks' Cleveland Pinkney stripped the ball from UA tailback Fred Talley
and USC's Andre Goodman recovered.
South Carolina again wasted no time capitalizing on the miscue as two plays later
Watson raced 68 yards for the Gamecocks' fourth and final touchdown. "Once we
went up 13-0, we played opportunistic football," Holtz said. "We weren't trying
to impress anybody, just get a win."
The Razorbacks avoided the shutout with a 16-play, 59-yard touchdown drive to
open the fourth quarter that saw three different UA quarterbacks under center.
Clark suffered a sprained left ankle seven plays into the drive and was relieved
by Jared McBride, who lasted just two plays before spraining his left knee.
Hampton returned to the game to guide the final five plays of the drive, capped
by Brandon Holmes' nine-yard scoring run. Holmes led the Hogs with 58 rushing
yards on a career-high 17 carries in his first collegiate start.
"We are younger and they are much better than last year," Hampton said, comparing
the game to last year's 48-14 Arkansas win in Little Rock, Ark. "We needed this
game today and we weren't able to do the things we needed to do. We made too many
mental mistakes." "We played a good football team," UA head coach Houston Nutt
said. "You have to give South Carolina credit. They executed really well. We weren't
good enough to overcome our mistakes."
South Carolina will travel to Nashville, Tenn., to face Vanderbilt next
week while Arkansas will try to take advantage of an open date to prepare for
their Oct. 28 trip to Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium, site of the Hogs' last SEC
road win on Oct. 31, 1998.
Gamecocks Roast Hogs, 27-7
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