Gamecocks stop Wolfpack with late defensive surge

Behind a resurgent defensive effort in the second half and three touchdowns from junior Deebo Samuel, South Carolina (1-0) claimed a 35-28 victory over NC State (0-1) in the Belk College Kickoff at Bank of America Stadium.

The Gamecock defense came out on fire in the second half, shutting down an NC State drive after five plays with a pair of quarterback hurries and a sack by Keir Thomas. Chris Lammons made it a short field, returning the punt 26 yards to near midfield. Three plays later, quarterback Jake Bentley, after escaping pressure, hit Deebo Samuel for a 39-yard score.

Defense set up the next Gamecock touchdown, as the Wolfpack fumbled the football on Dante Sawyer’s sack. Bryson Allen-Williams recovered it at the NC State 13. Two plays later, Rico Dowdle sprinted seven yards to hand the Gamecocks a 35-21 lead.

NC State took back momentum after the Gamecocks were stuffed deep in their own territory and the Wolfpack took over at the SC 46 after the punt. The Wolfpack methodically went 46 yards in nine plays, with Ryan Finley hitting Jaylen Samuels from one yard out to close within a score. An interception by Wolfpack Johnathan Alston gave the ball back to NC State. But the Gamecock defense stood strong, keeping NC State from gaining a second first down. South Carolina punted the ball back to NC State, but the Wolfpack turned over the ball on downs after D.J. Smith tackled Samuels just short of the first-down marker with 4:34 remaining.

The Wolfpack got the ball back with three minutes to go and drove inside the Gamecock 10, but the Gamecocks batted passes away from NC State receivers, the final one by D.J. Smith, to close out the victory.

Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

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