Gamecocks Survive Scare Against Terriers
After a fumble on the opening drive, quarterback Syvelle Newton led the Gamecocks to a score on their next five possessions. However, when it came time to run out the clock, Carolina was unable to do so, and the defense softened. "It was one of our typical games around here," Spurrier opined after the game. "It looks like we have a chance to blow somebody out, and it doesn't happen. The dangdest things seem to happen when we're in a position to bury a team. We're fortunate to win this one. They easily could have beaten us."
Newton played spectacular ball at times, passing for 196 yards on 12-18 passing, and rushing for 67 yards on 13 carries. However, late in the game he threw an interception and then ran out of bounds while the Gamecocks were trying to work the clock. Newton did enough for Coach Spurrier, however. After the game, Spurrier said, "In all likelihood, Syvelle will start [next week against FAU] and it's because he can make plays with the protection we've got. Syvelle made some beautiful plays out there."
After a fumbled handoff on the opening possession gave Wofford the ball on the Carolina 27 yard line, Coach Nix's defense rose to the occasion. The Terriers were unable to move the ball and attempted a field goal. The holder bobbled the snap, and Carlos Thomas swooped in to make a tackle. Newton wasted no time in taking advantage of the miscue. A pass to Moe Brown and a pair of Cory Boyd runs set the stage for the play of the game. Newton threw to Sidney Rice on a deep route, and the ball looked to be just out of reach. Rice stretched out to make a spectacular one-handed grab of 45 yards, and seemed to wake up the Gamecocks and their fans. Boyd strolled into the end zone on the next play.
Wofford took possession, and broke off a 20 yard run on 3rd and 10, a story that the Gamecocks would hear consistently during the game. "We did very well [on defense] except on third and nine and third and ten," Spurrier said. One blown assignment was all Wofford needed for its wingbone attack to rack up big yardage. USC forced Wofford into another third and long, but a missed assignment resulted in a 36-yard gain. The drive stalled at the 12-yard line, and Wofford kicked a field goal to pull within 7-3.
South Carolina found an offensive rhythm on the next drive, even overcoming a holding penalty. Newton made to key plays, hitting Kenny McKinley for 24 yards on 3rd and 18. Two plays later, Newton scrambled away from pressure and ran 28 yards down to the 4. Boyd cruised in for the touchdown two plays later. After a defensive stop, Newton made a pair of big plays. First, Chris White snapped the ball about three yards over Newton's head, but Newton recovered to throw the ball away. Then he scrambled and found Rice for 46 yards. That play was the extent of the offense on the drive, and Ryan Succop came in to kick a 42-yard field goal.
Just as it appeared Carolina would run away with the game, Wofford stormed back. On 3rd and 7, Kevious Johnson took the option pitch around the right side and rumbled down the sideline for 62 yards. Fred Bennett made a touchdown saving tackle, but it was only temporary. Johnson banged it in two plays later.
With less than five minutes left in the half, Carolina had a chance to add to the lead before going in for the half. Newton opened the drive with a 21 yard run. A quick pass to Rice followed, before Boyd took over again. He took a handoff on a draw up the middle, but was stuffed. Boyd kept his legs moving, and bounced away and turned up field for a 40-yard touchdown run. The score was Boyd's third of the game, tying the school record for rushing touchdowns in a game.
The up and down first half gave way to a methodical second half. The Terriers' ground game allowed them to salt away the clock. Wofford had two drives of about six minutes in the third quarter, sandwiched around a single Carolina possession. Wofford moved down the field, converting two third downs before the 13 play, 61 yard drive stalled on 4th and 2.
Carolina then put together its only drive of the second half. The Gamecocks moved steadily down the field, keeping in manageable down and distance. However, Wofford sacked Newton after Carolina got inside the five, forcing Succop's second field goal of the game, and ending the good news for the Gamecocks.
Wofford failed to move the ball on its next possession, and the fans filed to the exits. Carolina took over with a chance to put the game out of reach. Instead, they put Wofford right back in the thick of things. On 3rd and 10, Newton threw the ball right into double coverage, and was picked off by Justin Franklin. "[Newton] aimed the one that got picked off. He was hesitant tonight," Spurrier said. "He's never played in this kind of system." Wofford got a field goal off the turnover, but more importantly the Terriers stole momentum.
Things looked bad when Carolina went three and out, but they got even worse when the punt team came in. Wofford got pressure on Succop, who pulled the ball down and threw it away. He narrowly avoided a safety, but by turning the ball over on downs, gave Wofford 1st and 10 on the Carolina 25. The Terriers needed only one play to take advantage, as Andy Strickland turned a short crossing route into a 25-yard touchdown pass.
With 4:43 left, Carolina needed to take up some time. However, Newton ran out of bounds on second down, setting up an interesting third down. Cade Thompson came into the game for the first time in his college career. He took the snap from center and threw incomplete to Mike Davis on a wheel route. "I thought [Cade] could hit a little seam. I thought Cade could zip one in there and we could make a first down and win the game. He hasn't had a chance, and I figured let's give him a chance. You have to understand," Spurrier explained, "Syvelle hasn't done this before." The Gamecocks only took 1:25 off the clock on the drive.
Wofford took over on its own 39 with 3:18 to play. After losing 15 yards on an illegal block, Adrian Young scampered 39 yards to put the Terriers in business. Wofford crept toward the end zone, reaching the ten-yard line with 29 seconds to play. Facing a 4th and 6, the Gamecock defense had to step up. Wofford turned to the same play it had run to perfection so many times on the night. Josh Collier ran down the line and prepared to pitch the ball back. However, Dakota Walker, who had alternated good and bad plays all night, stepped in front of the pitch and batted it into the air. Spurrier said of the play, "Dakota made a heck of a tip." Cody Wells picked the deflection out of the air to seal the game for Carolina. "We made mistakes," according to Wells. "Dakota Walker made an outstanding play, and I was just there to pick it up." Walker described the play following the game. "I was trying to string the ball out and make a play. I knew he was going to pitch it because he had it strung out. I was trying to [play it like that] the whole night, but it finally worked." Knowing that many fans would be disappointed that the game was close, Walker also offered some perspective. "A ‘W' is a ‘W.' I don't care if we're playing a D-III team."
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