South Carolina suffered a stinging loss to open the 2019 campaign, falling 24-20 to the North Carolina Tar Heels at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Both teams were able to move the ball well in their respective opening drives, but stalled out in the red zone and settled for field goals before Tavien Feaster’s 34-yard scoring run made it a 10-3 ballgame with just over 3 to play in the first.
After Parker White’s 39-yarder made it 13-3 with 7:24 to go before the break, UNC tacked on a short one of their own with 1:50 left to draw within 13-6 despite getting the better of the Gamecocks’ running defense earlier in the drive.
Despite South Carolina’s defense allowing another red zone drive to North Carolina to start the second half, it held the Heels to another short field goal to make it 13-9 with just short of 7 minutes played in the third. A nice kickoff return by Shi Smith on the Gamecocks’ possession set up an eventual touchdown drive thanks to two key catches by Kyle Markway, one on 3rd and long and a 22-yarder on a coverage breakdown by the Tar Heels to put the Gamecocks up 20-9.
But South Carolina’s lack of aggressive play-calling on offense and soft defense allowed North Carolina to get back into the game.
First, Dyami Brown ended a 98-yard drive with an incredible one-handed, tumbling catch in the end zone, followed by a 2-point conversion to cut it to 20-17 with 14:27 left in regulation. With 4th and short near midfield on this next possession, the Gamecocks decided to punt, and again, the conservative playcalling hurt them on the scoreboard. UNC took the lead for good after several pretty grabs by its receiving corps, including a 17-yard catch by Beau Coralles to make it 24-20 with 8:16 remaining. Later, with 2:48 to go, Bentley tried to shoot a long pass downfield, but was picked off by Myles Wolfork. Despite getting the ball back with the clock running down, another interception by Bentley, again to Wolfork, was the backbreaker and allowed the Tar Heels to run the clock down.
South Carolina hopes to shake the loss off as they take on Charleston Southern at Williams-Brice Stadium. Kickoff next Saturday is set for noon.
Game Thread Roll Call
Now some good news: the game thread roll call is back! FlamingGamingChicken takes home the Game Thread MVP award for Week 1.