Gamecocks use comeback magic to beat Gators in OT

NCAA Football: South Carolina at FloridaAfter enduring so many heartaches for the season, it would be South Carolina (5-5, 3-5 SEC) that would play the role of spoiler Saturday afternoon, beating the Florida Gators (5-4, 4-4 SEC) 23-20 in overtime. Dylan Thompson would keep it on a read option from four yards out to shock The Swamp and send the Gamecocks home a winner.

With under three minutes to play in the game, South Carolina was faced with a 4th-and-10 at the Florida 41. A bad snap forced a hurried throw and an incompletion to give the home side the ball with 2:32 to play. After three run plays to take the clock all the way down to 46 seconds, the Gators would punt from their own 43.

Junior Carlton Heard would barrel in untouched on the punt attempt, snuffing it out and putting the offense on the Florida 34 yard line. It was the first blocked punt for the program since Devin Taylor at N.C. State in September of 2009.

A pass out to the left sideline to Mike Davis would get a quick 27 yards right off the bat, as the team would have to move fast with 46 seconds to play and no timeouts. Four plays later after the pitch and catch, Davis would fall on a fumbled option pitch in the end zone for a touchdown and a 17-17 game. The Gators would kneel on the ensuing possession to take it to overtime.

In the extra frame, Florida opened with a four-play drive leading to 35-yard field goal to put the pressure on the Carolina offense. Mike Davis would tote it four plays in a row, converting a 3rd-and-3 to the Florida 14 to keep the drive rolling. Two plays later, facing third down at the 4-yard line, Thompson ran untouched to the left for the instant win.

Overtime would have never happened had it not been for another clutch play from the Gamecock special teams earlier on in the fourth quarter. With the home side ahead 17-10 and 3:40 left to play, Francisco Velez lined up to attempt a field goal from the 32 to make it a two-possession game. It would be knocked back by Brison Williams to keep it just a seven-point lead.

It appeared to be an all-too-familiar theme for South Carolina early on, as it would dominate the first quarter but would allow the Gators to storm back as the game wore on. Thompson orchestrated an eight play, 85-yard drive on the opening possession of the game, capitalized by a 20-yard touchdown run from Brandon Wilds. Elliott Fry added a 32-yard field goal in the team’s next possession to put the Gamecocks up 10-0, and Carolina would ultimately hold the ball for 11:30 of the opening quarter.

The Gators would use a potent run game to score the next 17 points and force the miraculous comeback from the Gamecocks. Quarterback Treon Harris ran 20 times for 111 yards, and the home side would total 219 yards rushing to just 60 passing on the day.

The Gamecocks would total 301 yards of offense on 80 plays while limiting Florida to 278 on 60, respectively. It is the first road win for the team since Vanderbilt on Sept. 20 and the first win at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium since 2010.

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