South Carolina rode a nearly mistake-free performance by Ryan Hilinski in his first career start as it dominated Charleston Southern 72-10 in a home-opening win at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday.
Hilinski, forced into take the reins after Jake Bentley sustained a mid-foot sprain on the final play of the Gamecocks’ loss to North Carolina last week, was tasked with a first career start against an FCS defense and a team forced to relocate to Charlotte for game week preparations ahead of projected effects of Hurricane Dorian.
While the Gamecocks weren’t predicted to struggle with the Buccaneers at all today, the true freshman from California made sure of that.
Hilinski completed his first 12 passes and led touchdown-scoring drives on 7 of Carolina’s first 10 possessions, with the other three ending on a field goal, fumble and an interception. All told, he finished 24-30 for 282 yards with 2 passing touchdowns and another on the ground before giving way to Dakereon Joyner late in the third. Hilinski’s prettiest throw came in the second quarter, when he dropped an absolute dime onto the hands of Bryan Edwards to stretch the lead to 35-3.
By then, the game was well decided as the Gamecocks scored their most points in a half (44) in program history and ended with their highest point total in a game under Will Muschamp, easily beating the 49-point outputs against Coastal Carolina and Chattanooga last year and its most since a 70-point game against then-FCS Coastal in 2013. South Carolina also rolled up 493 yards on the ground and 775 yards of total offense - both program records - while holding Charleston Southern to just 267 yards.
While all eyes were on Bentley, another true freshman stood out for the Gamecocks. Kevin Harris finished with 6 carries for 147 yards and three touchdowns, including a 45-yarder and later a 75-yarder to set the game’s final margin.
Good luck tackling Kevin Harris pic.twitter.com/49mkOwvfya— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 7, 2019
South Carolina faces its stiffest test of the season next week as it hosts No. 2 Alabama at Williams-Brice Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on CBS.
Game Thread Roll Call
A quiet day in the Game Thread today! But Bulldog Cocky takes the Game Thread MVP award for Week 2.