No. 3 Gamecocks blow late lead in loss to No. 9 LSU

LSU rode a time-consuming drive, a huge turnover and freshman Jeremy Hill’s backbreaking 50-yard touchdown run to a big fourth quarter, and the ninth-ranked Tigers toppled third-ranked South Carolina 23-21 Saturday night in front of a full and rowdy house at Tiger Stadium.

Coming off a 14-6 loss at Florida last week, LSU avoided back-to-back defeats, which hasn’t happened to the program since 2008. The Tigers also extended their home winning streak to a national-best 22 games.

The Tigers (6-1, 2-1 SEC) beat the highest-ranked foe at home since they toppled top-ranked Florida in 1997.

“That’s what we do,” LSU coach Les Miles said after he improved to 3-0 against the Gamecocks (6-1, 4-1) and coach Steve Spurrier. “That’s what we’re supposed to do.

Down 14-10 after the teams swapped third-quarter touchdowns, the Tigers got the ball at their own 23-yard line late in the third quarter and started grinding away at South Carolina’s normally sticky defense.

Hill, who rushed for a career-best 124 yards and two TDs, ignited the drive with a 19-yard burst, and junior Spencer Ware converted three third downs with bruising runs as LSU gobbled up 7:57 on 16 plays.

The Tigers ran for 258 yards in the game, and it was a combined effort, with Ware running for 55, Michael Ford for 41 and Kenny Hilliard for 33. LSU averaged 4.9 yards per rush.

“They were running much better than we thought they would,” Spurrier said. “Today, I realized why LSU was preseason No. 1 (USA Today/ESPN coaches poll). They’re a big, strong team.”

The Tigers’ long and powerful fourth-quarter drive finished with a 20-yard field goal by Drew Alleman that cut the Tigers’ deficit to 14-13.

The South Carolina offense was rusty by the time it got on the field, and quarterback Connor Shaw showed as much when his third-down pass sailed high, and Eric Reid picked it off.

Reid returned the interception 29 yards to the Gamecocks’ 22. After Ware pounded out another first down with an 11-yard run, LSU was content to run three safe running plays and set Alleman up for a 22-yard go-ahead kick with 6:37 to go.

The Tigers’ defense was suffocating all night, never more so than on South Carolina’s ensuing series when Barkevious Mingo sacked Shaw for an 11-yard loss on third down to force a punt.

LSU got the ball at midfield on the exchange, and Hill provided the dagger on the next play when he ran through a gaping hole on the right side, cut back inside and found daylight in the secondary.

That brought the crowd of 92,734 to the loudest roar of the night in a game when the home-field advantage was palpable.

“That was Death Valley,” Miles said of the atmosphere. “That was the place where opponents’ dreams come to die. It started early and it ended late. It was spectacular. It started early and it went late. It was with us the whole night.”

LSU hasn’t lost at home since October 2009, when Tim Tebow-led No. 1 Florida claimed a 13-3 decision.

The Gamecocks closed the gap to the final score with a rapid 77-yard TD drive that ended with Shaw’s 1-yard strike to Bruce Ellington. LSU held on the final series when Craig Loston came up with a second interception.

The second half was a back-and-forth battle as the LSU offense suddenly found a comfort zone and moved the ball well at times.

Down 7-3 at the half, the Tigers rolled down the field on the first series of the third quarter, driving 69 yards as Zach Mettenberger hit passes early in the drive and then let LSU’s two bulky power backs finish it up.

Hill did that when he crashed through a tackle on a toss play and bulled in for a 7-yard score.

Just like the week before, LSU jumped in front with a field goal on its opening series, but that itself was maddening and typified another 30 minutes of offensive football.

After the Tigers stuffed South Carolina on the first series and forced a three-and-out, LSU’s maligned offense came out clicking.

Running almost exclusively from the I-formation, the Tigers methodically pecked away at the Gamecocks’ defense, with Ware grinding away and Mettenberger getting time to complete 4-of-5 passes for 42 yards.

After carving out only one third-down conversion in 13 tries last week, LSU converted four consecutive third downs. That streak ended when Kenny Hilliard was met at the goal line by safety Victor Hampton on a lead play from the 2-yard line and then dumped inches away from a touchdown by linebacker Reginald Bowens.

Miles initially sent the field-goal unit out, but he then called his second timeout of the drive and sent the offense back out with Ware at quarterback. Ware snuck in for the TD, but right tackle Vadal Alexander was flagged for a false start.

That prompted Miles to send Alleman out for a 22-yard field goal that capped a 16-play, 69-yard drive that consumed 7:47.

Comments

comments

CCU's Ruiz makes cut, still in hunt for Masters invite

CCU's Ruiz makes cut, still in hunt for Masters inviteLuis Ruiz, a junior on the Coastal Carolina men’s golf [more]

CCU Hoops: Men, women take big road wins at Troy

CCU Hoops: Men, women take big road wins at TroyTrailing by 14 points at halftime, Coastal Carolina went on [more]

Saints light up Landsharks in Lowcountry Showcase

Saints light up Landsharks in Lowcountry ShowcaseThe Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach boys basketball team won [more]

Strand runners dominate NMB Winter Run 15K/5K

Strand runners dominate NMB Winter Run 15K/5KMore than 200 runners pounded the pavement through the streets [more]

Hoops: CF girls win in OT; MB claims sweep over MC

Hoops: CF girls win in OT; MB claims sweep over MCThe Carolina Forest girls basketball team battled its way to [more]

Coastal's Pierrot picked in second round of MLS draft

Coastal's Pierrot picked in second round of MLS draftAfter a career which saw him named the Sun Belt [more]

NMB boys, girls suffer first region setbacks at Wilson

NMB boys, girls suffer first region setbacks at WilsonThe North Myrtle Beach High boys and girls basketball teams [more]

CF girls blow out Knights; boys lose to WF at buzzer

CF girls blow out Knights; boys lose to WF at buzzerDespite the ice-cold weather outside, the Carolina Forest girls basketball [more]

CCU Hoops: Chants suffer sixth straight loss at USA

CCU Hoops: Chants suffer sixth straight loss at USAThe Coastal Carolina men's basketball team suffered their sixth consecutive [more]

Conway sweeps Socastee; NMB, SJ games postponed

Conway sweeps Socastee; NMB, SJ games postponedThe Conway High boys and girls basketball teams swept visiting [more]

Boys Hoops: Green breaks CA record; Braves beat CF

Boys Hoops: Green breaks CA record; Braves beat CFChristian Academy of Myrtle Beach junior Michael Green reached another [more]

Lady Panthers' second-half surge knocks off Socastee

Lady Panthers' second-half surge knocks off SocasteeThe Carolina Forest High girls basketball team broke up a [more]

Coastal adds Michigan OL transfer to recruiting class

Coastal adds Michigan OL transfer to recruiting classCoastal Carolina head football coach Joe Moglia announced Sean Fitzgerald, [more]

Earnhardt clears air about interest in buying Panthers

Earnhardt clears air about interest in buying PanthersRetired NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he is interested [more]

CCU's Ruiz picked to play in Latin America Amateur

CCU's Ruiz picked to play in Latin America AmateurCoastal Carolina junior golfer Luis Ruiz has been selected to [more]

CAC swimmers clean up on medals at Tiger Invitational

CAC swimmers clean up on medals at Tiger InvitationalThe Coastal Aquatic Club (CAC) sent 37 swimmers to compete [more]

MB grad Sessions waived during 11th NBA season

MB grad Sessions waived during 11th NBA seasonFor the first time since his high school days at [more]

Horry/Georgetown Invite: CF, NMB, MB finish 1-2-3

Horry/Georgetown Invite: CF, NMB, MB finish 1-2-3The Carolina Forest High wrestling team captured the bi-county championship [more]

Battle at the Beach: MB makes it rain 3s; CA falls

Battle at the Beach: MB makes it rain 3s; CA fallsOn Friday night, a leaky roof forced the Myrtle Beach [more]

CCU Hoops: Coastal splits with visiting Georgia State

CCU Hoops: Coastal splits with visiting Georgia StateArtur Labinowicz scored a career, team and game-high 32 points, [more]

Hoops: Chiefs, Tigers use last-second shots for wins

Hoops: Chiefs, Tigers use last-second shots for winsNorth Myrtle Beach High's Cooper Chandler picked the right time [more]

MB Winter Bump tourney expects record crowd, field

MB Winter Bump tourney expects record crowd, fieldThe annual Myrtle Beach Winter Bump Volleyball Classic, hosted by [more]

Knaffle garners SCCAWS Player of the Year award

Knaffle garners SCCAWS Player of the Year awardSt. James High junior Smith Knaffle may need to add [more]

CCU Hoops: Chants split Sun Belt twinbill with GSU

CCU Hoops: Chants split Sun Belt twinbill with GSUJaylen Shaw moved into 13th place on the Coastal Carolina [more]

North Myrtle Beach boys, girls cruise past St. James

North Myrtle Beach boys, girls cruise past St. JamesThe North Myrtle Beach boys and girls basketball teams swept [more]

CCU's Ruiz makes cut, still in hunt for Masters invite

CCU's Ruiz makes cut, still in hunt for Masters inviteLuis Ruiz, a junior on the Coastal Carolina men’s golf [more]

CCU Hoops: Men, women take big road wins at Troy

CCU Hoops: Men, women take big road wins at TroyTrailing by 14 points at halftime, Coastal Carolina went on [more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2017 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach