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South Carolina falls flat, suffers fifth straight loss to No. 17 Kentucky

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Same old story.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: The South Carolina Gamecocks couldn’t defend the run, get off the field on third down, or avoid numerous self-inflicted wounds as the No. 17 Kentucky Wildcats thumped them 24-10 on Saturday night in Lexington.

The Gamecocks’ fifth straight loss to Kentucky was, unfortunately, a clip show of the previous four years.

The game got off to an inauspicious start, as the Gamecocks quickly went three-and-out. The South Carolina defense responded with a stop of its own, but on the ensuing possession, Rico Dowdle fumbled on the Gamecocks’ 7-yard line. South Carolina avoided an early disaster by forcing UK to kick a 29-yard field goal, then added a 29-yarder of its own from Parker White to knot the game at 3 late in the first quarter.

And then the nightmare started.

Kentucky star Benny Snell and quarterback Terry Wilson teamed up to steer the Wildcats methodically down the field, with Wilson’s 1-yard score capping an 11-play, 75-yard drive that had South Carolina’s defense on its heels. After the Gamecocks were forced to punt, Kentucky went back to work again, this time bulldozing South Carolina with Asim Rose’s 24-yard touchdown run to make the score 17-3 Wildcats. The Gamecocks chose to respond with a couple underthrown passes from quarterback Jake Bentley, the second of which resulted in an interception courtesy of Kentucky’s Derrick Baily Jr. The Wildcats made South Carolina pay one last time to close the first half, pushing their lead to 24-3 when Snell’s 4-yard plunge polished off a 6-play, 61-yard scoring drive.

Coming out of the break, the Gamecocks came up with a stop of sorts when Kentucky missed a 44-yard field goal. South Carolina then showed its first signs of life when a scrambling Bentley hooked up with Deebo Samuel for a 58-yard touchdown pass, narrowing the margin to 24-10. But after the defense secured another stop, Bentley threw his second interception of the game when he was hit as he threw and Kentucky snagged the wobbling pass. It proved to be no harm, no foul when the Wildcats turned in another three-and-out, but the Gamecocks responded with a three-and-out of their own. From there, both offenses bogged down and just traded punts, with Bentley finally throwing what amounted to a game-ending interception in the end zone on the Gamecocks’ last gasp drive.

South Carolina falls to 2-2 overall (1-2 SEC) and hosts Missouri next week.