The Gamecocks didn’t just lose to Tennessee Saturday night. They did it in style. With a 14 point lead in the 4th quarter, the Gamecocks slowly but methodically let Tennessee back into the game. On Tennessee’s final drive in regulation, the Vols and sophomore quarterback Josh Dobbs did whatever they wanted to with the ball. Dobbs threw for 301 yards on the game and rushed for another 166. He accounted for 5 of the Volunteer touchdowns.
The Gamecocks went into overtime for the first time ever in Williams-Brice and held the Volunteers to a field goal, and everything seemed poised for the Cocks to come away with a victory…until Dylan Thompson got sacked twice. On the third play of the overtime drive, Thompson rolled to the far side of the field and…threw the ball away. What that set up was a 58 yard field goal attempt that never really had a chance.
The Gamecocks have now dropped 4 straight SEC games, and are 4-5 on the season. With a road test in Florida, making a bowl might be difficult for the Gamecocks. “You have to push guys…not everybody is positive, I’m not gonna say that, because it’s a lie,” Thompson said after the game. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward was also short with his words. “I’m speechless…this is the third time we’ve lost in the 4th quarter.” But, as Ward said, “if it can’t get worse, eventually it’ll get better.” Let’s hope it does.
Offense: The Gamecocks posted 625 yards of offense. The number was actually much higher, but the two sacks in overtime cost Carolina almost 20 yards. Dylan Thompson was an effective passer, with 347 yards on the game, and although he was sacked 5 times, he only threw 1 interception. Pharoh Cooper also continued to emerge as the star of the unit. Cooper seemed to be able to do it all, but the Gamecocks got away from using him late in the game. Cooper’s incredible numbers include a passing, rushing, and 2 receiving touchdowns. He also broke Troy Williamson’s school record for receiving yards in a game (233).
Defense: The Gamecock defense stood tall several times, but was ultimately hindered by multiple injuries at key times, as well as an inability to stop the rush. Tennessee ended the game with two 100 yard rushers, QB Josh Dobbs and RB Jalen Hurd. The defense, which made several big stops, including holding the Vols to a field goal in overtime, still allowed 645 yards of offense from Tennesee. It was also the third game that the Gamecocks have held a lead late in the game and ended up losing.
Pharoh Cooper: After the game, Cooper was humble about his performance. “I’m not really thinking about what I did…it’s a team game.” What Cooper did, though, was incredible. In a single game, Cooper threw a touchdown, ran for a score, and caught two TD passes. He accounted for 286 yards of offense just by himself. He also recovered an on-side kick that seemingly sealed the game for Carolina. Cooper’s second touchdown was an 85-yard seem pass that Cooper torched his defender and ran to the endzone untouched.
Brandon Wilds TD reception from Pharoh Cooper
Brandon Wilds: Wilds also had a quietly huge game. When there was a play to be made, it seemed that Wilds, or Cooper, or both, seemed to be around the ball. Wilds touchdown reception came from Cooper’s 30 yard loft pass, and he also broke for 70 yards for one of his rushing touchdowns. Wilds ended the night with 143 rushing yards on 8 attempts.
The Gamecocks next game is at Florida on November 15th.