Gamecocks answer late wake-up call from Knights

uscfoot-11South Carolina’s pair of second-half interceptions from T.J. Holloman and touchdown passes from Lorenzo Nunez defined a solid third quarter as the Gamecocks powered past UCF 31-14 Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium. Trailing 14-8 at halftime, South Carolina played a near flawless third quarter en route to 20 unanswered points while allowing the Knights just 73 yards of offense in the period.

Save an opportunistic second quarter for UCF, South Carolina dominated the game on the scoreboard and the stat sheet. A balanced offensive attack saw the Gamecocks’ 400 total yards come via 216 rushing yards and 184 passing. Defensively, South Carolina held the Knights to just three conversions on 12 third-down opportunities, picked up five tackles for loss and two interceptions.

The Gamecocks controlled the first 19 minutes of the game, using extended drives on offense and limiting UCF to just two first downs during the stretch. In his first career start, Nunez led the Gamecocks on a sustained opening drive, finding Pharoh Cooper on the right sideline on 3rd-and-10 then keeping the drive alive two plays later with a 12-yard rush to get into UCF territory. Nunez delivered a solid throw on the left sideline to Jerell Adams for a 15-yard completion and another first down. The Knights’ defense held up, forcing South Carolina to attempt a 52-yard field goal, which Elliott Fry nailed for a 3-0 lead with 9:47 to play in the first quarter. It was the longest strike of his career.

Freshman defensive end Boosie Whitlow imposed his will on the Knights right out of the gate, getting great pressure on quarterback Bo Schneider on 3rd-and-10 in his first offensive series. After another lengthy South Carolina drive ended in a missed 49-yard field goal attempt, Whitlow again came up big, sacking Schneider for a 10-yard loss to force a three-and-out on the series.

South Carolina’s next drive got off to a good start but UCF stopped the Gamecocks on 3rd-and-2 to force a punt to start the second quarter. Long snapper Drew Williams delivered for the South Carolina special teams, though, downing the punt on the 2-yard line. The Knights handed off to Taj McGowan, looking to create some breathing room, but for the third time, Whitlow found his way into the backfield for a tackle in the end zone and a 5-0 South Carolina lead with 14:42 to play in the half. It was the Gamecocks’ first safety since Sept. 12, 2009, at Georgia.

Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

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