After three closed scrimmages, the South Carolina faithful got their first look at their Gamecocks this spring in the annual Garnet & Black Spring Game Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium.
On a windy but beautiful day with continued construction extending Willy-B's facelift, fans and media gathered to see Steve Spurrier's 2015 team in their annual event that wraps up spring football.
The Gamecocks, divided into two teams, played four, 12-minute simulated quarters with the second half featuring a running clock.
Connor Mitch, QB1 entering the spring, led the Garnet team on the opening drive of the ball game, going 70 yards on four plays for a touchdown. Coach Spurrier caught everyone off-guard with his spring staple "off the bench" play coming in the first drive instead of the last. Mitch's touchdown pass on that first drive was caught by Gamecock ambassador and country music superstar Darius Rucker.
The touchdown was set up by a long completion from Mitch to tight end Jerell Adams. Mitch floated a pretty ball right into Adam's arms for 42 yards and a shot from the red zone.
The Black team got the ball on their opening possession and trotted out quarterback Perry Orth to lead their side. They failed to convert on downs but the black team came back on their second drive and ground out a 15-play, 69-yard drive to tie the game at 7-all. The drive was quarterbacked by Michael Scarnecchia, who ran the ball in from the two for the score. The grinding drive was kept alive by backs Darius Paulk and Shon Carson, who combined to convert two third downs and a fourth-and-one.
That scoring drive ended the first quarter and the second quarter was marked by two Elliott Fry field goals, the kicker for the Garnet team. His first make was a 48-yarder, which was longer than any make he had last season. His second field goal was set up by a Jasper Sasser interception, who grabbed a tipped Perry Orth throw.
Those field goals would be the last points for the Garnet team on the day and neither team would put up any points in the third quarter as the defense on both ends combined to only allow 63 total yards in the quarter. Connor Mitch ended his day midway through the third quarter, finishing with a line of 10-of-16 for 183 yards and a touchdown to a country singer.
As the fourth quarter began, Perry Orth switched to the Garnet team, making it an Orth-Scarnecchia battle in the final moments of the spring. Orth seemed poised to increase the 13-7 Garnet lead and put the game away as he drove his squad down to the Black nine-yard line. Scrambling out of the pocket due to pressure, Orth threw a pass that was tipped and once again picked off by Jasper Sasser.
The Black team took over at their own five-yard line with 4:22 to play after Sasser's second interception of the day. Michael Scarnecchia completed three consecutive passes for 67 yards, moving his team down to the Garnet 28 with only a couple minutes remaining. They were knocked back after a Kelsey Griffin sack but on the ensuing play, Scarnecchia found spring star Deebo Samuel for 33 yards and a spot at the Garnet two-yard line. With the continuously running clock, the Black team hurried to the line and Scarnecchia hit redshirt freshman Terry Googer on a slant for a touchdown and a 14-13 Black win in the annual Garnet & Black Spring Game.
Scarnecchia finished the day 10-of-12 for 162 yards and a touchdown while Orth went 11-of-19 for 137 yards. The three quarterbacks combined to go 33-of-54 for 511 yards Saturday afternoon. Tight end Kevin Crosby led the way for receivers with three catches for 70 yards and Rod Talley was the leading rusher with five carries for 43 yards. Along with Sasser, Kelsey Griffin and Darius English led the way on defense with Griffin racking up 5.5 tackles and a sack while English added four tackles, two for loss, and a sack.
Steve Spurrier was relatively pleased with the 2015 edition of the spring game, especially the ending. "We had us a little bit of a game," Spurrier said afterwards. "It was neat to see Michael Scarnechia connect with Deebo Samuel and get down to the one or two yard line and then hit Terry Googer on the slant there with the clock running out. It added a little bit of suspense to an otherwise not a super duper offensive game. I thought all of the quarterbacks did some pretty good things out there today. I wish we would get the ball of out their hands. They like to take off running every now and then. It looked like there was a lot of sacks out there that would have happened if the quarterbacks would have been live," Spurrier continued. "But Connor Mitch threw for 180 yards, 10 out of 16. Scarnechia was 12 and 19, 191 yards. Perry Orth was 11-of-20. They all seem to have their stats very similar every time we scrimmage. That shows the kind of team we are right there. I don't think anyone got hurt seriously and there was some good hustle out there. I think the defense looked good playing just two coverages. There were no mistakes. When you only play two coverages it's hard to make a mistake," the Head Ball Coach conceded. "That is certainly something we can improve upon what we did last year as far as everyone knowing what to do. That gives you a chance. Spring practice is over. We're ready to get in for the summer, ready to finish out the semester academically as strong as we can. That's the main thing these next two weeks is to finish academically and get ready for the summer."
Final statistics for the game can be found here.
2015 Spring Game Awards
OL: Alan Knott
DL: David Johnson
WR: Terry Googer
Spur: T.J. Gurley
LB: Jonathan Walton
TE: Jacob August
S: Jordan Diggs
CB: Rico McWilliams
RB: David Williams
QB: Perry Orth / Connor Mitch
Special Teams: Drew Williams
Freshman-Defense: Jalen Henry
Freshman-Offense: Michael Scarnecchia
Everyday Effort Award: D.J. Park / Donell Stanley - Offense; Gerald Dixon, Jr. / T.J. Holloman - Defense
Everyday Hustle Award: Darius Paulk - Offense / Phillip Dukes - Defense
Everyday Attitude Award: Will Sport - Offense / Bryson Allen-Williams - Defense
Outstanding Weight Room: Kevin Crosby - Offense / Sherrod Pittman - Defense
Outstanding Walk-Ons: Matrick Belton - Offense / Scott Grant - Defense
Harold White GPA Devin Potter: - Offense / Chris Lammons - Defense / Landon Ard - Special Teams
Big Plays - Spring Practice: Deebo Samuels - Offense / Skai Moore - Defense
Dr. Harris Pastides Outstanding Student/Athlete Representative: Jerell Adams
Joe Morrison Offensive Player of the Spring: Alan Knott
Rex Enright Defensive Player of the Spring: Marquavius Lewis
Jim Carlen Special Teams Player of the Spring: Elliott Fry
Independence Bowl MVPs: Pharoh Cooper - Offense / Skai Moore - Defense