Nothing lasts forever.
The Gamecocks’ magical 3-0 run with freshman QB Jake Bentley at the helm came to a screeching halt in The Swamp on Saturday afternoon - with the Gamecocks taking a 20-7 loss at the hands of the Gators.
With the defeat ends any chance of the Gamecocks making it to Atlanta as the SEC East representative.
Despite the final score, there were still some solid performances from Will Muschamp’s club.
TE Hayden Hurst
Though he came up just short in the end zone on the Gamecocks’ final offensive play, Hurst was solid against the Gators’ third-ranked pass defense.
The former minor leaguer hauled in three balls for 63 yards - the most spectacular being his 47-yard catch-and-run to put the Gamecocks in scoring position in the game’s final minutes.
A Florida native, Hurst was vocal in wanting to stick it to the Gators, and though his team was on the losing end, the tight end can keep his head up with a strong performance. Plus...
Hayden Hurst now has 38 receptions on the year. It is the highest single-season mark by a Gamecock TE in a season surpassing Jared Cook (37)— Gamecock Stats (@GamecockStats) November 12, 2016
P Sean Kelly
Kelly is one of (if not the biggest) unsung hero of the 2015 and 2016 football seasons.
The senior punted seven times for an average of 45.1 yards and no touchbacks - with a long of 61 yards(!). Without Kelly flipping the field, the Gamecocks would’ve likely been in a much deeper hole than the 20-0 one they found themselves in entering the fourth quarter.
The FAU transfer is averaging 42.2 yards per punt, good enough for No. 40 in the country. Kelly’s pinned opponents inside the 20 yard line 25 times, with 10 punts traveling more than 50 yards.
DE Darius English
The senior defensive end led the Gamecocks with a career-high 10 tackles (2 solo), .5 sacks and 2.0 TFL.
Darius English & Marquavius Lewis sack Appleby to force 4th down. English now with 8.0 sacks on the year. #Gamecocks— Gamecock Stats (@GamecockStats) November 12, 2016
English is tied for third in the SEC with his 8.0 sacks on the season.
If the Gamecocks are to stifle the potent Clemson passing attack in the season finale, the 6’6” senior will have to continue to be a disruptive force in the trenches.
QB Jake Bentley
In the face of adversity and constant pressure, the Gamecocks’ freshman signal-caller held his own - going 18-of-33 for 213 yards and one INT.
Bentley’s turnover-free streak ended with a fumble early in the second quarter - throwing his first career interception early in the fourth.
On the day, Bentley was sacked five times, but rarely looked shaken or lacking confidence. It was a tough day for No. 4, but Carolina fans should be encouraged by his performance.
It didn’t go the Gamecocks’ way, but there were some silver linings to be found in The Swamp. With Western Carolina on the horizon, South Carolina has a shot at bowl-eligibility - and if they’re to win (as they should) on Saturday, it’ll be in large part due to the four players above.