November 23, 2014

SportsTalk at the Stadium: Gamecocks gain bowl eligiblity with sloppy win (VIDEO)

Dylan Thompson caught a 4th quarter TD pass from Pharoh Cooper in the win over South Alabama

Dylan Thompson caught a 4th quarter TD pass from Pharoh Cooper in the win over South Alabama

USC got the three things it wanted out of Saturday’s game against South Alabama at Williams-Brice Stadium.  A win, 37-12.  Bowl eligibility.  And good health for the Clemson game.

It was by no means a clean victory as the Gamecocks committed way to many physical and mental mistakes between the turnovers (5) and the unsportsmanlike penalties.

But Dylan Thompson did cross the 3000 yard passing mark on the season and the defense kept the Jaguars out of the end zone and came up with 5 turnovers of their own including 4 interceptions.   And the most serious injuries were a concussion for Rico McWilliams and a sprained knee for Alan Knott.

The Gamecocks now turn their attention to Clemson next week at Death Valley where they will seek to extend their winning streak over the Tigers to six.

Here’s my take on the Gamecocks’ win over the Jaguars:

USC defense comes up big this time in turnover plagued victory (AUDIO)

Pharoh Cooper had another productive day receiving, rushing & throwing a TD pass

Pharoh Cooper had another productive day receiving, rushing & throwing a TD pass

USC’s much maligned defense did its job for the most part in Saturday’s 37-12 win over South Alabama.  Lorenzo Ward’s bunch limited the Jaguars to 289 yards and just 82 in the second half.  And on a day when the offense turned the ball over with regularity, the defense responded by coming up with five turnovers including four interceptions and a pick six.  And most importantly, the Gamecocks kept the Jaguars out of the end zone despite drives that started at the Gamecock 21, 38 and 17 yard line.

Wilds led the ground game with 77 yards

Wilds led the ground game with 77 yards

The Gamecock offense was simply sloppy.  Mike Davis lost a fumble on his only carry of the day and lost a second fumble at the end of a screen pass.  Dylan Thompson tossed an interception and David Williams also lost a fumble.  The special teams also got into the act with Nick Jones losing the ball while attempting to catch a punt.

However, there were good offensive moments.  Wilds and Williams ran well and finished with 77 and 65 yards respectively.  Both were used from the Wildcat as was Pharoh Cooper who caught three passes for 95 yards, rushed for 42 yards and threw a fourth quarter touchdown pass of seven yards to Thompson from the Wildcat.

Thompson reached a milestone eclipsing the 3000 yard passing mark for the season, only the fourth Gamecock quarterback to do that.  He’s at 3031 yards for the season, fourth best in school history.  The record is 3206 yards set by Todd Ellis in 1987.

The Gamecocks are now bowl eligible at 6-5 and with some momentum heading into next week’s Clemson game where they will seek their sixth straight victory over the Tigers.

Here’s what Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks had to say after Saturday’s win.

AUDIO: Steve Spurrier [12:00]

Skai Moore had 2 of USC's 4 interception

Skai Moore had 2 of USC’s 4 interception

AUDIO: Lorenzo Ward [4:16]

AUDIO: Dylan Thompson [4:47]

AUDIO: Pharoh Cooper [4:30]

AUDIO: Brison Williams & Brandon Wilds [4:44]

1st Quarter Recap

2nd Quarter Recap

3rd Quarter Recap

4th Quarter Recap

Final Stats

Gamecocks wilt in final minutes in 65-63 loss to Charlotte (AUDIO)

Another tough loss for Martin and the Gamecocks (File Photo)

Another tough loss for Martin and the Gamecocks (File Photo)

USC had a chance to pull out what would have been a big win over Charlotte in round two of the Charleston Classic Friday night but the Gamecocks could not make plays at the end of the 65-63 loss.

The Gamecocks, trailing by two,  turned the ball over with 14 seconds to play when Mindaugas Kacinas failed to in-bounds the ball within five seconds.  Forced to foul, the Gamecocks sent Mike Thorne Jr. to the line and he missed both attempts.

After the 49ers committed the two fouls they had to give, USC ran a play with eight seconds left.  Sindarius Thornwell, who had 18 points for the night but  made just one second half shot, attempted a three from the right side of the key but  missed as the horn sounded.

The Gamecocks played some of their best basketball of the season in building a 14 point first half lead but that began to erode over the final five minutes and the lead was only seven at the break.  The 49ers came out in the second half intent on overpowering the Gamecocks inside, and they succeeded tying the game within three minutes.

They eventually went up by 7 until the Gamecocks fought back to take a two point lead with 6:39 left, and it was nip and tuck from there.

Kacinas and Michael Carrera each had 11 points for USC.  Braxton Ogbueze led the 49ers with 14 points.

The Gamecocks fall to 2-2 and will face Akron Sunday night at 6:30 for third place.  Charlotte, which is 3-0, will play Miami Sunday night for the championship.

Final Stats

AUDIO: Frank Martin and Sindarius Thornwell [9:57]


Gamecocks cruise past Cornell in Charleston Classic opener (AUDIO)

Thornwell led USC with 14 points (File Photo)

Thornwell led USC with 14 points (File Photo)

A strong defensive effort in the first half allowed USC to build a 14 point cushion at the break and the Gamecocks went on to a 69-45 win over Cornell Thursday night in their opening game of the Charleston Classic at the TD Arena on the College of Charleston campus.  The Gamecocks improved to 2-1 and will play Charlotte Friday night at 7:00 PM.

The Big Red led 11-9 five minutes in but then the Gamecocks tightened up their defense and went on a 14-2 run over the next six minutes.  Cornell never got closer than seven the rest of the way.   The Gamecocks forced 17 turnovers for the game and turned those into 15 points.

Sindarius Thornwell led USC with 14 points, 13 in the first half.  Mindaugas Kacinas had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, 7 off the offensive glass.


Final Box

AUDIO: Frank Martin [8:20]

AUDIO: Sindarius Thornwell & Mindaugas Kacinas [2:17]

USC seniors and (most likely) Mike Davis prepare for final home game (AUDIO)

Junior running back Mike Davis will be honored with the seniors Saturday.

Junior running back Mike Davis will be honored with the seniors Saturday.

The University of South Carolina football team (5-5, 3-5 SEC) worked out at the Bluff Road practice fields on a cool Wednesday afternoon in Columbia. The Gamecocks are preparing for their final home game of the 2014 season, a Saturday noon start against the South Alabama Jaguars (6-4, 5-3 Sun Belt). A win would make the Gamecocks bowl-eligible for an 11th-straight season.

Saturday will be Senior Day, with 22 players expected to take part in the festivities. The list includes seniors Rory Anderson, Damiere Byrd, A.J. Cann, Ryland Culbertson, Jordan Diaz, Patrick Fish, Cody Gibson, Sharrod Golightly, Tyler Hull, Nick Jones, Kadetrix Marcus, Connor McLaurin, Sidney Rhodes, Corey Robinson, J.T Surratt, Dylan Thompson and Brison Williams. In addition, Mike Davis, Austin Hails, Coleman Harley, Matthew Harvey and Drew Owens, will also participate despite having a year of eligibility remaining. This year’s senior class has been part of 38 wins, tying for the second-most in school history, including three bowl victories.

The Gamecocks still have a lot to play for this season. “We want to get bowl-eligible,” said senior quarterback Dylan Thompson. “And just have a good time doing it. South Alabama is a good team. We’ve got to come out and play hard, play fast. They play fast and we have to be ready for them. It’s going to be a good day to play. Hopefully we’ll finish strong at home. We want to give the home crowd a good show because we haven’t done that the past few times at home.”

“I think it’s gone by pretty fast to tell you the truth,” said senior offensive guard A.J. Cann of his time at Carolina. “I’ve enjoyed it. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but I know it’s Senior Day this Saturday and I’m going to enjoy that. Hopefully we’ll come out with the win, which will be even better for us.”

Saturday’s game will be televised on the Fox Sports Net, with Fox Sport South picking it up in the Columbia area. Bob Rathbun will have the play-by-play with Tim Couch providing the color commentary. Olivia Harlan is the sideline announcer.

The Gamecocks will practice again on Thursday afternoon.