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South Carolina vs. Kentucky: Game Balls

Here are the guys that stood out in this week’s must-win matchup

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

South Carolina took care of business against the Wildcats in a game they needed to win in order to keep their postseason hopes alive.

The normal script was flipped, as the defense was oddly the highlight of this Gamecock victory.

After securing a shutout for the first three quarters, Kentucky scored a garbage time touchdown with about 2.5 minutes left in the fourth quarter, the only blemish on the Cocks’ almost perfect day on that side of the ball.

The offense left a lot to be desired, but still ultimately got the job done.

Offensive Game Ball: Tavien Feaster

If there was one aspect of the offense that was not struggling, it would most definitely be the running game.

Feaster could do no wrong, rushing for 107 yards on 15 carries, good for a hefty average of 7.1 yards per carry.

He also added two touchdowns to his attractive stat sheet, with one being a two-yard punch in for the first score of the game and the other being a speedy 19-yard run acting as the exclamation point in a game that was already decided at that point.

In a game where Ryan Hilinski wasn’t doing much through the air, it was good to have a guy like Feaster take some of the load off of him and produce some points on the ground.

Defensive Game Ball: D.J. Wonnum

For the second straight week, Wonnum forced a turnover with last week being an interception and this week being a forced fumble on a sack.

His big day didn’t end there either. He had two more sacks to form a total of three for the day to go along with five tackles.

He was one of the many guys keeping Kentucky quarterback Sawyer Smith, who finished with a total QBR of 3.6, on edge during his long night.

It seemed like every time Smith dropped back to pass, he was rushed into a bad decision or was simply running for his life, and Wonnum is one of the many men to credit for doing that job tonight.

Hats off to you.

Honorable Mentions: Rico Dowdle, Ernest Jones, and Joseph Charlton

Dowdle had almost identical numbers as Feaster, but I gave Feaster the edge because of his extra touchdown. I couldn’t possibly ignore either part of the two-headed monster that is South Carolina’s running backs.

He was effective in the passing department as well taking in his only reception for a moderate gain of 23 yards.

As for Ernest Jones, he was everywhere on the field, leading the team in tackles with seven.

Jones also took advantage of one of Smith’s early mistakes, recording an interception on a terrible read and throw.

This is Charlton’s second straight week on my honorable mentions too, and, in my opinion, he is completely deserving.

The Gamecocks were forced to punt nine times because of their offensive struggles and he unleashed a beauty on each and every chance he had, leaving five inside the 20.

He was an explanation for the seven total points allowed as much as any player on the defensive side because, obviously, it is much harder to score points when your team is forced to start a drive pinned in their own territory.