The story of today’s Gamecocks was Jake Bentley’s first start at quarterback with South Carolina. It came dangerously close to turning into “How’d they blow a 20-point fourth quarter lead?”, but the Gamecocks held on for a 34-28 victory over the UMass Minutemen.
While Bentley didn’t set the field on fire (17-26, 201 yards, two touchdowns), he had some strong throws to help move the Carolina offense. One came to K.C. Crosby with 7:18 left in the first to make it 20-7, and the second was a 24-yard strike to Bryan Edwards about three and a half minutes later to stretch the lead to 27-7. While his final numbers are probably best taken with a grain of salt (considering the opponent), it wasn’t a bad showing for the freshman (who would have been a high school senior otherwise) in his first-ever collegiate action.
UMass made it interesting in the 4th, though. After a Deebo Samuel fumble was recovered by the Minutemen at the Gamecocks 30, Andrew Ford led his team into the end zone to cut it to 34-21 with around 10 minutes to play. They sliced it to 34-28 with four and a half to go as Ford found Adam Brenaman from eighteen yards out. The Gamecocks avoided a possible catastrophe when A.J. Turner muffed (and then recovered) the ensuing kickoff, but a 25-yard strike to Samuel and a couple of pass interference penalties helped them burn off the clock and pick up their third win of the season.
The Gamecocks finished with their most points (34) and yards (395) this season, despite giving up their most points to an opponent (28). Rico Dowdle and David Williams combined for 31 carries, 156 yards and three touchdowns. Samuel ended the day with eight catches for 106 yards. Defensively, the Gamecocks recorded four turnovers - two interceptions and two first-quarter fumble recoveries on back to back drives. D.J. Smith had a game-high 12 tackles, while Bryson Allen-Williams recorded nine tackles (2.5 TFLs) and a sack.