The South Carolina Gamecocks handled in-state FCS foe Wofford on Saturday, coming away with a 31-10 victory in Columbia as the program celebrated Senior Day.
The Gamecocks got off to an inauspicious start, gaining just one first down before having to punt it away on the game-opening possession. Wofford then marched promptly down the field, aided by an untimely facemask penalty, but the South Carolina defense stiffened and forced a 32-yard field goal attempt. The Terriers banged it through, drawing first blood to lead 3-0. The Gamecocks put together a decent drive in response, converting a 4th and 1 at Wofford’s 49-yard line to keep the chains moving. But South Carolina turned it over on downs at the 47 when Bentley was chased from the pocket and forced to throw the ball away on 4th and 2. To say the offensive performance to this point was disconcerting would be an understatement —the receivers were plagued with drops, and the offensive line was getting blown off the ball, having already allowed two sacks.
The rest of the second quarter, however, went very well for South Carolina. On the first snap of Wofford’s ensuing possession, Terriers quarterback Brandon Goodson was picked off by Skai Moore, who notched his school record-tying 14th interception. With great field position at the 50, OrTre Smith, Bryan Edwards, and some Jake Bentley scrambles got the Gamecocks quickly into the red zone. After a Bentley touchdown run was initially ruled short of the goal line, he punched it in a couple plays later from a yard out to give the Gamecocks a 7-3 lead. Forcing a Wofford punt, South Carolina then added another touchdown on a 23-yard Bryan Edwards reception as the half wound to a close, showcasing brilliant clock and game management to pad the lead before heading into the locker room.
It was breathing room the Gamecocks needed, as Wofford struck back in its first possession of the second half with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that took 5 minutes, 37 seconds off the clock. With the score now an uncomfortable 14-10, South Carolina gave as good as it got, relying on heavy dose of A.J. Turner to get down the field and back into the end zone on another Bentley keeper, pushing the margin to 21-10. The defense keep the momentum rolling, forcing the Terriers to turn it over on downs, and Parker White tacked on a 36-yard field goal to make it 24-10 at the start of the fourth quarter.
From there, it continued to be all Gamecocks. Dante Sawyer forced Wofford’s Joe Newman to fumble and it was recovered by T.J. Brunson, setting up 6-play, 38-yard touchdown drive that featured a heavy dose of Ty’Son Williams and a 2-yard rushing score from Turner. Down 31-10, the Terriers struggled to mount a response and ultimately threw their second interception of the day, this one snagged by Rashad Fenton to effectively seal the victory.
Jake Bentley enjoyed one of his most efficient and effective performances of the season, going 22-of-28 passing for 194 yards and a touchdown, as well as notching two rushing scores. Bryan Edwards was the clear standout in the receiving game for South Carolina, amassing 90 yards on eight catches with a touchdown. A.J. Turner carried the load out of the backfield with 69 yards on 11 carries, and added a score. Ty’Son Williams chipped in 58 yards on eight carries as well. Overall, it was a balanced attack from the Gamecocks, and one that saw them distribute the ball well.
South Carolina has now reached eight wins for the first time since 2013 and also locked up a second-place finish in the SEC East. The Gamecocks are now free to focus on next week’s rivalry showdown, as the Clemson Tigers come to town.