Despite turning in a largely miserable performance on Homecoming weekend, the South Carolina Gamecocks managed to avoid disaster, capturing a last-second 21-20 win against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday afternoon.
The Gamecocks got off to a good start in the first quarter, with tight ends Nick Muse and Jaheim Bell both finding the end zone for 2- and 82-yard scores, respectively. Defensively, South Carolina surrendered just a 42-yard field goal while also forcing a turnover on downs to round out a solid beginning to Homecoming weekend.
The second quarter showcased a lot of punting, with mercifully came to an end when Jordan Strachan intercepted Vandy quarterback Ken Seals and returned it to the Commodores' 20-yard line. Unfortunately, the Gamecock offense stalled out, surrending a turnover on downs of its own.
While South Carolina avoided any pain by forcing another punt, MarShawn Lloyd lost a fumble deep in Gamecock territory to allow the 'Dores to set up shop. Vanderbilt capitalized, with Rocko Griffin punching it in from one yard out to make the score 14-10 before halftime.
The third quarter saw a similar lack of offense at first, with the teams trading punts and Bell losing another fumble to the Commodores that ultimately led to a 52-yard, go-ahead touchdown by Will Sheppard that put Vandy up 17-14. Unfortunately, when the Gamecocks attempted to mount a response, Parker White had his first miss of the season, shanking a 38-yard field goal to prevent tying the game as the quarter came to a close.
The final stanza started even more unfortunately for South Carolina, as Like Doty tossed another interception. Vanderbilt tried to give it back with a fumble on its next possession, but the 'Dores recovered the fourth fumble of the game to stay alive. Thankfully, the Gamecocks did force a punt, but unfortunately had to punt themselves, and the Commodores tacked on another field goal to make it a seemingly insurmountable 20-14 game.
After another Doty interception on the ensuing possession, Vanderbilt attempted to run the clock out, but was forced to punt. Emergency quarterback Zeb Noland then entered the game, unexpectedly and miraculously piloting the Gamecocks into the end zone, courtesy of a 9-yard scoring strike to Xavier Legette. Everybody breathe: The crisis was averted, even if this game raised more questions than it answered.
See y’all next week in a trip to College Station to face Texas A&M.