Gamecocks beat Vanderbilt in first game minus Spurrier

uscfoot-3 In its first game under interim head coach Shawn Elliott, who replacd Steve Spurrier earlier this week, South Carolina delivered a 19-10 victory over Vanderbilt Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium as the Gamecock defense delivered five turnovers. Four came in the second half to help South Carolina score 13 unanswered points to overcome a halftime deficit and an earlyVanderbilt field goal.

Senior running back Brandon Wilds delivered his sixth career 100-yard game with 120 yards on 24 carries. Junior wide receiver Pharoh Cooper’s eighth career 100-yard receiving game came with 160 yards on seven catches, including a 78-yard touchdown grab in the second half.

The Gamecocks moved the ball well in the first quarter with 107 yards of offense compared to just 50 for Vanderbilt. South Carolina struck early when Jonathan Walton forced a fumble recovered by T.J. Holloman on the third play of the game. Starting on the Commodores’ 24, the offense struggled early, but Elliott Fry delivered a 47-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead with 13:21 to play in the period.

Vanderbilt looked to strike back quickly, but the Gamecock defense held up on third and short just across midfield, forcing a pair of incomplete passes and a punt. Orth found his rhythm passing on the ensuing possession, finding D.J. Neal for a 28-yard strike and Cooper for a 24-yard delivery that put the Gamecocks into Vanderbilt territory. Fry again delivered with a 31-yard field goal for a 6-0 Gamecock lead with 6:49 left in the quarter.

Midway through the second quarter, Vanderbilt put together its most extensive drive as McCrary connected on a series of passes. With a first down on the 10-yard line, McCrary was thrown for a two-yard loss. After a five-yard rush by Vandy’s Ralph Webb, the Gamecock defense forced another incomplete pass, but Holloman was charged with targeting that gave the Commodores new life at first and goal from the 3-yard line. South Carolina sent Vanderbilt back a yard over the next two plays, but McCrary found Caleb Scott alone in the end zone to make it a 7-6 Commodore lead with 2:21 to play in the half.

South Carolina mounted one more attack in the waning minutes of the period, marching to the Vanderbilt 37. Fry narrowly missed a 55-yard field goal attempt as time expired to send the Gamecocks to the locker room trailing 7-6.

The second half opened with a short South Carolina drive as Vanderbilt carried momentum into the third quarter. Darrius Sims broke through for a 41-yard rush to quickly put the Commodores into Gamecock territory. South Carolina forced a tough third-and-long situation, but McCrary stepped up to find Steven Scheu for a 17-yard strike that moved his team into the red zone at the 13-yard line. Again the Gamecock defense held up when it mattered most, holding the Commodores to a 23-yard field goal and a 10-6 lead with 5:43 on the clock.

The Gamecock offense wasted little time rewarding its defense’s effort as Orth found Cooper on a short slant that the junior receiver broke open for a 78-yard touchdown that put South Carolina back in front 13-10 with 6:34 left in the quarter.

Two plays into the Vanderbilt drive, Bryson Allen-Williams reeled in his first career interception to keep the Williams-Brice Stadium crowd on its feet. McCrary tried to go over the middle where Allen-Williams tipped it straight up. Keeping his focus, the sophomore linebacker tracked it down to seal the Commodores’ second turnover of the game and give the Gamecocks the ball on the Vanderbilt 45.

The running game carried the Gamecocks to the 2-yard line, where the Commodores forced a field goal after Ryan White broke up a pass intended for Neal deep in the right corner of the end zone. Fry’s strike from 19 yards made it a 16-10 South Carolina advantage with 2:52 to play in the third quarter.

Vanderbilt looked to rally early in the fourth quarter when Jahmel McIntosh pulled down an errant Orth pass meant for Cooper, but sophomore Chris Lammons returned the favor on the next play, out-leaping the receiver to make the interception. The Gamecocks were forced to punt, and the Commodores were sharp early in the possession. A series of penalties set up 1st-and-28 on their own 8-yard line, though, and Skai Moore finished off the drive with a perfectly read interception on McCrary’s pass over the middle. Four plays later, Fry drilled his fourth field goal of the game to put the Gamecocks up 19-10 with 5:27 to play.

The Commodores were up for the fight, though, driving efficiently down the field to the Gamecocks’ 17 on five plays. After an incomplete pass set up 2nd-and-10, McCrary dropped back for another pass only to be tracked down by Moore who stripped the ball and picked up the fumble to put South Carolina back in the driver’s seat.
Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

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