Citadel shocks Gamecocks on controversial offside call

uscfoot-citadelThe South Carolina football team dropped a 23-22 decision to The Citadel Saturday afternoon following a controversial late call that cost the Gamecocks a go-ahead touchdown.

On fourth-and-seven in the final seconds, PharohCooper caught a seam pass and took it in for the apparent score, but it was determined that not all 11 Gamecocks were set in formation when the ball was snapped. The play was waved off, and on the ensuing play the team would be stopped short of a first down.

Quarterback Perry Orth and tight end Jerell Adams had career days offensively for the Gamecocks (3-8), but the Bulldogs (8-3) racked up 350 rushing yards to earn the win.

It would be the Bulldogs who would strike first, using their triple-option offense to break a big touchdown run on the first drive. A-back Cam Jackson took a pitch to the short side right and went 59 yards to the endzone for a 7-0 advantage just 150 seconds into the game.

The Gamecocks aired it out on their next drive, with Orth hitting Pharoh Cooper for 40 yards and Adams for 12 on successive attempts to drive into the red zone, but a key penalty on what would have been another first down stalled out the offense and led to a 36-yard field goal for Elliott Fry.

The Citadel would answer with a different style of drive to take a two-score lead late in the quarter. The visitors would run 13 times out of the option and went 75 yards, Tyler Renew capped it with a seven-yard dive up the middle for a 14-3 game.

Needing a response, the Gamecocks would use a pair of fourth-down conversions to drive in for another field goal in their first drive of the second quarter. Orth would hit Deebo Samuel on a fourth-and-three from Carolina’s own 40, then he would keep it on a sneak on fourth-and-one at The Citadel 42. A 30-yard completion to Adams set the team up inside the ten, but the drive would stall out again and led to a 25-yard field goal from Fry.

The Citadel’s first punt of the day would help the Gamecocks edge closer on the scoreboard. Another big completion to Adams – this time a 27-yard pickup – set the team up on the fringe of the redzone. A pair of runs would be stuffed and Fry would soon find himself converting his third field goal of the game, this time a 40-yarder in a 14-9 game. The score would carry into the halftime break.

The Carolina defense stonewalled The Citadel for the fourth-straight drive as the second half got under way, giving the offense a chance to take another bite out of the deficit. As it had been all day, the drive was given a shot in the arm by a big pass play, this time it was Orth to Cooper over the middle on a deep post for a 47-yard gain. Three runs later, Brandon Wilds punched it in to give the Garnet and Black a 16-14 lead with six minutes to go in the third.

A 48-yard field goal for the Bulldogs would briefly put them ahead, 17-16, but the air raid continued from Orth and his receiving corps. He would loft a 41-yard touchdown pass to Cooper, giving him his first career 300-yard game. The two-point conversion failed, giving Carolina a 22-17 lead with nine minutes to play.

The visitors would answer back, going back to the home-run play. Renew burst through the middle for 56 yards on a second-down run to push it back to a 23-22 lead for The Citadel. In Carolina’s attempt to answer, it would run out of luck on its fourth down conversions, stonewalled on a fourth-and-one at The Citadel 46 to give the Bulldogs the ball back with just four minutes to play.

Carolina’s defense would hold, but burned its final two timeouts and was left with just 1:26 by the time the offense got the ball back. The drive would start at Carolina’s own three-yard line.

Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

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