Gamecocks Bounce Bulldogs, 41-20
S.C. — Sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw completed 16-of-18 passes for
217 yards and three touchdowns and added a career-high 90 yards and a
score on the ground to lead No. 14 South Carolina to a 41-20 victory
over The Citadel on Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium.
The Gamecocks improve to 9-2 on the season with the victory.
Shaw leading the way, South Carolina had one of its best offensive
efforts of the season, racking up 473 yards of total offense.
(Shaw) had his best game, I think, ever as a Gamecock,” South Carolina
head coach Steve Spurrier said. “He definitely was a game-ball guy.
Football is a team sport, and it was time for the offense to be the
main part in us winning a game.”
Freshman running back Brandon
Wilds rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries and chipped
in 50 yards receiving. A week after becoming the Gamecocks’ all-time
leader in receiving yards, junior Alshon Jeffery led the way with five
receptions for 81 yards and a score. Sophomore Ace Sanders hauled in
four passes for 49 yards and a touchdown, and freshman Rory Anderson
had a 20-yard touchdown reception.
The Gamecock defense had
another stellar effort as it allowed 249 yards (241 rushing, eight
passing) on the day. The eight yards passing is the fewest allowed by
South Carolina in the Spurrier era. Senior linebacker Rodney Paulk
recorded a career-high 12 tackles and a forced fumble to lead the
The Gamecocks came out strong after receiving
the opening kickoff with a 10-play, 60-yard scoring drive. Shaw
completed passes of 22 and 9 yards to Jeffery to begin the drive, and a
20-yard connection with Wilds set Carolina up at The Citadel 7. Two
plays later, Wilds busted into the end zone from a yard out to give
South Carolina a 7-0 lead at the 10:17 mark of the first quarter. The
score marked the first time the Gamecocks have scored first in a
contest this season.
The Bulldogs (4-7) answered after Rah
Muhammad intercepted a Shaw pass to set the Citadel up at the Gamecock
35. The Citadel running back Darien Robinson carried the ball five
straight times for 34 yards and recovered his own fumble in the end
zone on the final carry for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 with
4:47 left in the first. Robinson finished the day with 88 yards on 20
carries to lead the Bulldogs.
South Carolina regained the lead
on the ensuing possession, as Wilds capped an 18-play, 72-yard drive
with a 3-yard touchdown run. Jay Wooten drilled the extra point to give
the Gamecocks a 14-7 advantage with 10:29 left in the half. The drive
ate up 9:18 off the clock, making it the second longest drive by time
of the Spurrier era.
“Might have been the best offensive game
since I’ve been here,” Spurrier said. “We had seven possessions and
scored six touchdowns and had that one pick on a first-down play. All
the guys played really well.”
A 32-yard field goal by Ryan
Sellers on The Citadel’s next possession pulled the Bulldogs to within
14-10 with 2:09 left, but Shaw used his legs to push South Carolina’s
lead back to double digits less than a minute later.
and 10 from the Gamecock 40, Shaw went right on a keeper, turned up the
field and raced 60 yards untouched for a career-long touchdown run to
give South Carolina a 20-10 lead.
“I set up the defender off of
Kenny (Miles),” Shaw said. “Kenny had a great block. I knew if I could
get by Kenny, I could take it to the house. It was great perimeter
The Bulldogs trimmed South Carolina’s lead to 20-13 at the half on a 41-yard field goal by Sellers.
the Gamecocks pulled away in the final 30 minutes. On South Carolina’s
first possession of the second half, Shaw connected with Sanders for a
25-yard scoring strike to give the Gamecocks a 27-13 lead with 4:30
left in the third quarter.
South Carolina pushed its lead to
34-13 early in the fourth quarter. On first and 10 from The Citadel 32,
Shaw lofted the ball toward Jeffery, who made a spectacular one-handed
grab for the touchdown with 11:07 remaining.
“We see it in
practice a lot,” Shaw said of Jeffery’s remarkable catch. “That was one
heckuva catch out there. It was pretty special. I was in awe of it for
After The Citadel made it a 34-20 contest on a
12-yard touchdown run by Ricky Anderson on the ensuing possession, Shaw
put the exclamation point on the win by hooking up with Anderson for a
20-yard touchdown pass with 45 seconds left to push Carolina’s lead to