Gamecocks Squeak By ULL 14-7

Call it a disappointing opener or call it a relief, but whatever it's called it is a "W" in the win column and for a season opener that's all that matters. The alternative was unthinkable ...

Gamecock fans were not made to wait long for the debut of Demetris Summers – and Lou Holtz proved once again that he is a man of his word. After winning the toss of the coin Louisiana-Lafayette chose to kick-off to the Gamecocks and Demetris Summers. Summers returned the ball 25 yards and the Meat Summers era was officially underway …

Then, in keeping with a promise made during the recruiting process, Demetris Summers carried the first ball on the first play of the 2003 season … a ten-yard pick-up to the Carolina 35.

Everything that happened afterwards fell below early expectations.

Three plays into Louisiana-Lafayette's first drive Jeremiah Garrison caused a Rajin' Cajun fumble and the ball was recovered by Marcus Lawrence. South Carolina took over at the ULL 22 and four plays later Dondrial Pinkins hit Troy Williamson on an 8 yard inside slant for the first Carolina touchdown of the new season.

Afterwards ULL and USC would exchange possessions while finishing the first quarter in an uneventful fashion with the Gamecocks leading 7 – 0. Noteworthy were the numbers – ULL out-gained the Gamecocks in the first quarter 19-91 to 15-52 but the two R-Cajun turnovers negated any total yardage advantage Ricky Bustle's team may have enjoyed.

The second period proved equally sedating as neither team was able to mount a successful drive on the other – that is until Carolina took the ball 35 yards in 10 plays down to the ULL 11.

Let it be said that Lou Holtz warned everyone of a potential problem with his team's kicking game all summer.

With four ticks remaining on the clock the Gamecocks lined up to tack on an extra 3 before heading into the break – but a Josh Brown field goal attempt was blocked on the 29 and recovered by ULL's Patrick Lamy who went 89 yards for a half-ending ULL score.

7-7 at the break, but the Gamecocks had begun to find themselves a bit offensively and the yardage totals were beginning to balance. ULL 33-132, USC 34-127.

Joey Bowers kicked-off for a touchback to open the second half and ULL was forced to punt six plays later. Despite a well-drawn game plan by Bustle and the Cajun coaches, South Carolina's defense seemed intent on not allowing a score.

Again, as in the previous two quarters, the third period was marked by a series of unspectacular offensive executions, or lack thereof, on both sides of the ball – neither team able to hit for the big play.

Then, with 3:52 to go in the third, Gamecock fans in need of a pick-me-up found something to get excited about over the course of the next two plays from scrimmage.

Dondrial Pinkins rolled to his right from the Carolina 44 and found a wide-open Hart Turner for a 23 yard gain. The fans erupted at the sight of the tight end being used. Next play and Pinkins throws complete again to Turner at the ULL 30. Pinkins would then carry to the ULL 23 for a 1st down before finding wide receiver Troy Williamson on a buttonhook to the ULL 13.

It was time to muscle-up for the Gamecocks and Kenny Irons got the call. A Pinkins hand-off saw Irons take it down to the ULL 7 – then again off left tackle Irons powered his way into the end zone for a second Gamecock score.

USC 14 (52-249), ULL 7 (47-211) to end the third.

The game would end with the same score – ULL was never able to mount threatening drives in the fourth quarter – but neither were the Gamecocks.

South Carolina would finish the game with 326 total yards on 70 plays. 5-36 in the penalty department and out-possessioned by ULL 29:05 to 30:55.

One of the bright spots for the Gamecocks at the end of the night was that Demetris Summers led the Gamecocks in all-purpose yards.

Also, Lou Holtz passed his mentor Woody Hayes in the lifetime wins total with the victory.

Insider notes and quotes will be made available to subscribers in another posting to follow later tonight.

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