The South Carolina Gamecocks hung in for a bit in the first half, but ultimately couldn't keep up with the talented No. 3 Florida Gators in a 38-24 loss on Saturday afternoon.
The Gamecocks got off to a great start, mixing the run and pass and quickly moving into the red zone with catches from Shi Smith, Xavier Legette and strong rushing from Kevin Harris, who capped off the roughly six-minute drive with a plunge into the end zone.
The Gators struck right back, though, employing an equally balanced offensive attack to get Dameon Pierce into the end zone and even the score at 7. Unfortunately, the South Carolina offense sputtered in return, and a couple amazing catches by Florida receivers keyed the Gators to another score, this one a reception by otherworldly tight end Kyle Pitts.
Florida took a 14-7 lead into the second quarter, and the Gamecocks offense stalled again as receivers were unable to pull down their targets. However, South Carolina wcaught a break when Florida quarterback Kyle Trask fumbled on a keeper, and cashed in the turnover behind strong running from Harris and Deshaun Fenwick that resulted in a Smith score to tie the game again at 14.
Florida tacked on a field goal after a nice red zone stop by the Gamecock defense, moving ahead 17-14, but South Carolina couldn't keep pace after more frustration in the passing game. The Gators made them pay with another Pitts touchdown, securing a 24-14 halftime advantage.
The Gamecocks got back to work, forcing a Florida three-and-out and getting productive carries from Harris and Fenwick until a couple penalties backed them up and Fenwick ultimately fumbled a screen pass. The Gators made them pay, aided by a dubious pass interference, with a scoring reception to Trent Whittemore.
Things didn't get any better on the next series, as South Carolina went nowhere fast and Collin Hill took a huge sack. It went from bad to worse when Kadarius Toney skipped through the Gamecock defense on third down for a 57-yard touchdown reception to put the Gators up 38-14.
South Carolina got back on the board with a Parker White field goal to make it 38-17, but it was a curious choice given the deficit. The Gamecocks did find the end zone, though, after an Israel Mukuamu pick set South Carolina up for a Harris touchdown reception to pull within 38-24.
Unfortunately, while the Gamecocks ended up wi a chance to make this a one-score game, brutal clock management doomed their chances -- as well as Smith dropping two passes in the end zone.
South Carolina falls to 0-2 and faces Vanderbilt next week.