It wasn't hard to find No. 26 in garnet on Saturday night at Bank of America Stadium. If you were following the football, then chances are, you saw plenty of him.
Senior spur linebacker Antonio Allen made 16 tackles for the Gamecocks, leading the team to a 56-37 victory over East Carolina.
Allen tallied a game high in tackles and also doubled his career high, but the Ocala, Fla. native did much more than just wrap up. He forced two fumbles and recovered another two, taking one back for a 25-yard house call, his second career touchdown.
"Yeah he was all over the place," coach Steve Spurrier said. "A lot of times your nickel-back/strong safety type player needs to make a bunch of tackles. So Antonio was good there, very good."
After a sloppy first half that ended with the Gamecocks facing a ten-point deficit, Carolina needed to make plays, one way or the other. Antonio Allen welcomed the opportunity.
On ECU's very first possession of the second half, Allen was able to jar the ball loose from Pirate wide out Lance Lewis after he caught a short pass along the sideline. Shaq Wilson recovered it and Carolina got just what the doctor prescribed: a momentum swing.
Less than two minutes later, Ace Sanders was catching a touchdown pass from Stephen Garcia and things were starting to look up for coach Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks.
After another two minutes went by, Allen was causing a ruckus yet again. This time, he was giving Carolina an 11-point lead that it would not relinquish.
ECU running back Michael Dobson carried the ball up the middle and was hit by a slew of Gamecock defenders. Before Dobson had a chance to hit the deck, Allen ripped the ball out and made a clean scoop, taking it into the end zone for a 25-yard fumble return touchdown.
Inside the first five minutes of the second half, Carolina had gone from trailing by ten to leading by 11. Allen had plenty to do with it.
"It immediately changed the momentum of the game. We were back on top," Allen said.
Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson acknowledged that Allen's touchdown provided the momentum swing that ultimately gave the Gamecocks the 'W'.
"Antonio made some big plays," Johnson said. "I think his fumble return kind of gave us the momentum for good."
Allen's career day
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