No. 13 Gamecocks survive late scare from Kentucky

No. 13 South Carolina survived a late scare and extended its home winning streak to 14 games with a 35-28 victory over Kentucky on Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium.

The Gamecocks opened the fourth quarter with a comfortable 20-point lead but twice saw the Wildcats pull within seven points.

The Wildcats had two scores in a 1:53 span of the fourth quarter to trim the Gamecocks’ lead to 27-20 with 11:50 remaining in the game. Jalen Whitlow threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Demarco Robinson on the second play of the fourth quarter. The Gamecocks fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Whitlow hit Ryan Timmons for a 14-yard scoring toss to make it a one-score game.

The Gamecocks offense responded on their next drive by going 89 yards in seven plays. Quarterback Connor Shaw went around left end for a 2-yard scoring run with 8:05 remaining.

The Kentucky defense, which came into the game ranked second in the SEC and 18th nationally in pass defense by allowing 175 yards through the air, was shredded by Shaw for 262 yards and a touchdown.

Kentucky is in a stretch of playing four straight ranked opponents. They have dropped the first three games by a combined 86-48. They face No. 1 Alabama at home next Saturday.

Kentucky (1-4, 0-2) went with Whitlow at quarterback after he split time with Maxwell Smith during the first four games. Whitlow played the entire game for the first time this season and nearly directed the second-half comeback. He finished with 178 passing and two touchdowns and added 69 yards rushing and a score.

South Carolina opened by scoring on its first three offensive possessions. The Gamecocks took the opening kickoff and covered 77 yards in four plays with Shaw connecting with Damiere Byrd on a 62-yard scoring strike.

Mike Davis capped the second Gamecocks drive with a 22-yard scoring run and added his second touchdown on the next series from 1 yard. The sophomore has eight touchdowns to lead South Carolina.

Kentucky was bottled up with just 34 yards of total offense in the first quarter, but the Wildcats finally got going on their third possession. Raymond Sanders scored out of the Wildcat formation from 2 yards to cap the 14-play, 75-yard drive.

Elliott Fry added a 40-yard field with 12 seconds remaining in the half to give South Carolina a 24-7 lead at halftime.

South Carolina All-American defensive end Jadeveon Clowney did not dress Saturday night. The junior suffered bruised ribs during the week and was unable to practice Thursday. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said on Thursday that the team held Clowney out as a precaution and he would be available for Saturday’s game.

So far this season, Clowney has been on the injured report with an illness (twice), bone spurs in his foot and now a rib injury. Clowney has 12 tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble on the season.

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