"There were too many turnovers, I guess some of the guys were kind of ready to go home," UNC commitment Darrius Massenburg said following the game. "We just couldn't finish, that's all."
Two costly fourth-quarter interceptions thrown by Joe Cox of Charlotte (N.C.) Independence proved to be the difference in a game which was dominated by defense in the first half. Both interceptions were followed quickly by South Carolina touchdowns. Mike Davis scored after the first miscue on a 6-yard run, and Reynaldo Hunter scored on a 18-yard run following Cox's second interception. A blocked punt recovered for a touchdown capped a 32-point scoring run by S.C. and provided their final points.
In the first half, South Carolina scored on a field goal after partially blocking a punt on North Carolina's first possession to take a 3-0 lead. Later in the first half, Tuscola's Jonathan Crompton directed North Carolina on a 61-yard drive and punctuated by a three-yard touchdown run by Toney Baker of Jamestown (N.C.) Ragsdale. At halftime, North Carolina took a 7-3 lead into the locker room.
South Carolina got things going in the second half after recovering a Crompton fumble on the 41-yard line. Though they moved the ball down to the four-yard line, they had to settle for a field goal and brought the score to 7-6 with 8:26 left in the third quarter.
The two teams exchanged miscues in the third quarter, but South Carolina got the ball moving on quick outs and slants to their wide receivers, allowing them to gain yardage after the catch. After a fumble by Cox, South Carolina marched the ball from their own 43 and scored a go-ahead touchdown and a two-point conversion to take a 14-7 lead.
Derek Nicholson, Defensive MVP and UNC target summed it up this way, "Second half turnovers and mental mistakes lost us the game. South Carolina was the better team today, they deserved to win."
Another player UNC is recruiting hard, Everett Brown of Wilson (N.C.) Beddingfield, echoed his teammates comments, "[Turnovers] got us out of our rhythm of three-and-outs. They made some big plays after the turnovers."
The North Carolina running backs (both UNC recruiting targets), Baker and Montario Hardesty, both found the end zone for touchdowns, but found the going tough against a stout South Carolina defense.
Hardesty captured then North Carolina Offensive MVP with 53 yards on 12 carries, while Baker notched 52 yards on 14 carries. Hardesty also had 136 return yards on five returns, including a long return of 36 yards.
The team from the Tar Heel state tried to make it interesting down the stretch, recovering two on-side kicks back-to-back and recovering a South Carolina fumble late.
As for the two highly-touted North Carolina quarterbacks, Crompton was clearly the more effective of the two, though Cox got the start and the lion's share of the snaps until his two interceptions in the fourth quarter. Cox finished 10-of-22 for 89 yards to go with two interceptions. Crompton completed 10-of-22 for 143 yards and also had an interception.
Jordan Sorrells was the S.C. Offensive MVP with an 18-of-30, 173-yard performance. Terrence Smith led the South Carolina receivers with four catches for 54 yards.
UNC commitment Brian Dixon was second on the N.C. team in tackles to Nicholson.
Stay tuned to Inside Carolina this coming week for exclusive video clips from the 2004 Shrine Bowl.