Late scores give White team 21-17 win

With a scrimmage lasting just over an hour, the 2010 Garnet & Black game came to an end, as fans and players alike will now anxiously await the start of fall practice in August. In this year's abbreviated edition of the annual spring game, the White squad battled its way to victory, overcoming a 10-point deficit to get the 21-17.

As the crowd made its way into Williams-Brice on a bright Saturday afternoon, they got to see the finished product of two weeks of practices and at least a preview of what they will witness this fall.

"It was a late arriving crowd today, at first I didn't think they were going to come but it was a good crowd," said Coach Steve Spurrier after his sixth spring game at South Carolina. \

"As coaches, we thought it was a good spring, we've made progress and we'll have a good summer and be ready to go September 2nd. There were a lot of plays here and there (today). But overall I think it was a decent game, the way you do games nowadays."

Stephen Garcia, Connor Shaw, and Zac Brindise each threw touchdown passes in the scrimmage, and there were also scores from two running backs, Kenny Miles and Brian Maddox.

Garcia got the start for the White team while Shaw opposed him on the Garnet side.

"All the quarterbacks had some good moments, did some good things," said Spurrier. "I don't know who looked the best."

"We are certainly not a very good team yet," said Spurrier in describing the scrimmage as a whole. "We have a chance but not until we've earned it. A lot of our players don't handle praise very well. Don't start praising the Gamecocks yet. So you'll have to wait and see with the Gamecocks."

The day got off to an inauspicious start for Garcia, as he was intercepted on a tipped pass to Demario Bennett on the second drive of the day.

The lead signal caller for the Gamecocks would bounce back though, throwing a short touchdown pass to Justice Cunningham in the 2nd period, and finishing 8-15 for 79 yards on the afternoon. Even though he has endured some criticism this spring, Spurrier said Garcia will have the chance to work hard this summer and prove himself in the fall.

"I'm hoping Stephen Garcia will have a big summer of getting committed to really learning how to play," said Spurrier. "He threw some bullets out there that went through some guys hands. But we've got to get Stephen ready to play. Stephen should be our best player, but sometimes he doesn't completely act like it or perform like it. But hopefully he will have a real committed summer of getting ready to play."

Cunningham definitely was the star of the day, finishing with 4 catches for 57 yards and a TD, earning praise from the Head Ball Coach as one of the MVP's on the day.

As it has for much of the spring, a lot of today's focus was also on freshman quarterback Connor Shaw. After Garcia's interception, he led the Garnet team on a 8 play, 79 yard touchdown drive that culminated in the first score of the afternoon, a 14-yard strike to tight end Patrick DiMarco. The score gave the Garnet team a 7-0 lead before Garcia tied it with his TD pass.

Shaw ended up 4-8 passing for 59 yards and a score. Despite his good play through the air and on the ground, Spurrier said Shaw still has a long way to go before he can start in the SEC.

"Connor is a true high school freshman but I believe he and Clifford will try to improve this summer. We will see where they are when we start practice."

With the score tied it was time for another Garnet QB to step up and lead his team on a touchdown drive, and this time it was Andrew Clifford taking the team down the field. Brian Maddox punched it in to give the Garnet team a 14-7 lead.

The drive started with some major trickery, as Cedrick Snead came off the sideline to make a catch on a 70-yard bomb from Clifford, taking it into the end zone where he performed a well-choreographed touchdown dance before launching the ball into the stands.

"That's the best we've hit (that play) in six years now," joked Spurrier. "Snead, he got a bunch of penalties on that play didn't he? Celebration, into the stands, off the bench. I don't know what would happen in a real game if that play occurred."

Zac Brindise took his turn on the next drive for the White team, and promptly threw an interception that was deflected by Quin Smith before being caught by Stephon Gilmore and returned to the 24 yard line.

Shaw was unable to move the team down the field, and the Garnet team settled for a 39-yard FG from Spencer Lanning to gain a 10-point lead after two periods at 17-7.

That would be it, however, as the White team punched it in twice during the 3rd period to gain the lead they would hold until the end of the game.

On the first drive of the final period, Brindise redeemed himself, marching down the field to trim the Garnet lead on a 34 yard pass to DeMario Bennett. Bennett made a great play on the ball for the touchdown, coming back to the pass before eluding a defender to make it in.

Stephon Gilmore got his shot at quarterback with the Garnet team hanging onto a thin lead, and did not did not have his best effort. After skipping a ball intended for Cunninham, Gilmore threw a bad ball that was picked by Brandan Davis for the turnover.

This time, it was the White team's chance to take advantage of a short field, and Seth Strickland quickly hit Lamar Scruggs and DeMario Bennett to move the team into the red zone. Kenny Miles took care of the rest, dashing in for a 10-yard TD that would give the White squad its final margin of victory at 21-17.

In addition to Cunningham, Bennett and Scruggs stepped up at the receiver position to help give the Gamecocks even more depth. Bennett finished the day with 4 grabs for 57 yards, and Scruggs added 46 yards on 4 catches of his own.

Kenny Miles led the White squad in rushing with 35 yards on 8 carries, and scored the game winning touchdown. On the Garnet team, it was Bryce Sherman with 4 carries for 32 yards and Connor Shaw ended up with 19 yards on 3 carries.

Jacob Baker even got a chance to pick up some carries for both teams today, tallying 4 carries for 33 yards.

Overall it was a productive and injury-free day as there were no real kickoff or punt returns, and the defense was only allowed to play basic coverage free of any blitzes.

"This one was a little bit more organized," noted Spurrier. "It was set up to help the offense, so it was a lot more encouraging (than two years ago). We came out injury free."

On the defensive side, Quin Smith led the Garnet team with 6 tackles and Jarrett Burns also had 4 stops. Brandan Davis finished with 8 tackles and a pick for the White team, and Damario Jeffrey had 6 tackles.

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories