LSU downs Gamecocks in home loss on the road

lsuFew fans of Carolina football could have imagined they would call LSU’s Tiger Stadium home, but after a tumultuous week in Columbia the Gamecocks went west to take on the seventh-ranked Tigers. The team would sport its all-white uniform as the de facto home team, and were welcomed with open arms by the LSU community.

On the field, the Gamecocks faced one of the most potent offenses in the country and Heisman candidate Leonard Fournette, but were able to control it early on. A relentless and physical ground game would be the difference for LSU, though, who won 45-24 behind 54 rushes for 396 yards. The Tigers are now 5-0 (3-0 SEC), the Gamecocks move back to 2-4 (0-4).

Perry Orth finished with 200 yards passing and a pair of touchdown throws. One would go to Pharoh Cooper, who hauled in seven passes for 105 yards. On defense, Marquavius Lewis had his best game in the Garnet and Black, with nine tackles and a sack.

The Gamecocks would open the scoring on their very first drive, using a big third-down conversion to set up a field goal. On their own 45, the Gamecocks faced a third and 11. Making his second start of the season, Orth hooked up with Cooper for a 42 yard passing play to get the ball into the red zone. Orth would pick up another long third down with his legs, but had three incompletions at the three that brought out Elliott Fry for a 21-yard field goal.

LSU would immediately counter that score with a 13 play, 75-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a four-yard run by Darrel Williams. It would score again on its first drive of the second quarter to go ahead 14-3, but the Gamecocks would not run and hide from the early adversity. Instead, it would come up with their most explosive play of the day to ignite a small but passionate fanbase in the stadium.

After LSU’s touchdown, freshman Rashad Fenton took the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for the big score. The Tigers would overcommit to the left side of the field, and Fenton would go almost untouched to score on his first kick return ever for the team. It snapped a 13-year stretch without a kickoff return for the program, with the last coming from Matthew Thomas at Virginia in 2002.

Carolina would get the ball back later in the quarter and were driving for the lead, but a pass from Orth would be tipped up and intercepted at the LSU 34 with just over a minute left in the half. A pair of big completions from Tiger quarterback Brandon Harris to Malachi Dupre would get the team down to the Carolina 12, but the defense locked in and forced a field goal as time expired in the half.

Through the first two quarters, the defense held Fournette to just 49 yards (3.3 per carry), but Harris responded to the run-focused Gamecock defense with 135 yards on 13 completions.

Fournette would nearly double his first-half rushing total on one carry. The sophomore went for an 87-yard touchdown run on his second touch of the third quarter and the Tigers would extend the lead to 24-10. After a three-and-out for Carolina, LSU went for another big play to make it 31-10. Facing a third-and-24 at its own 38, Harris appeared to overthrow his intended receiver, but a streaking Travin Dural caught the pass on the fly and went untouched for a 62-yard score.

Needing a quick answer, South Carolina got just that as it went 60 yards in just 90 seconds to score. Staring at fourth-and-eight and just out of field goal range at the 36, Perry Orth would hit Jerell Adams over the middle. The senior tight end broke an ankle tackle and went in for his second touchdown of the season on his longest reception of the season.

The third quarter would end with dueling touchdown drives, starting with LSU going 75 yards on just six plays right after Adams’ touchdown that made it 38-17. Carolina responded through the air with a three-play drive that would also result in a touchdown. Orth started things off with a 15-yard strike to Matrick Belton, then hit Cooper on a slant and let the playmaker take it 43 yards for the score.

It appeared that the Gamecocks caught a break on the ensuing kickoff, as Landon Ard recovered his own onside kick, but the referees ruled that D.J. Smith was offsides on the kick. The Tigers would field the re-kick.

LSU’s ground game continued to grind on the Gamecock defense, keeping the score at an arm’s length with a touchdown on its fourth consecutive drive to begin the fourth quarter. This time it would be Derrius Guice, diving in from four yards out for the final score of a 45-24 game. Carolina would gain just 33 yards in the fourth, as the Tigers dominated possession through the run game.

Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

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