Gamecocks wide receiver Xavier Legette caught his first career touchdown and was one of many new faces to contribute to the homecoming victory. (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)

The Gamecocks put a charge into their bowl hopes with a 24-7 homecoming victory over Vanderbilt at Williams-Brice Stadium, Saturday night. At times, it was not easy (and it was never pretty), but over four quarters, the best team … and the best player emerged. South Carolina (4-5), playing into November without the services of opening-game starters Shi Smith, Rico Dowdle, Jake Bentley or Dylan Wonnum, rode the back of senior wide receiver Bryan Edwards. Edwards set a school record with 14 catches and racked up 139 yards receiving and a touchdown. But the statistics tell only part of the story. From the game’s outset, Edwards was fighting for extra yardage and sending the message that he was a mismatch for which the Commodores would have no counter. Several of Edwards’ 14 catches were quick screens he converted into first downs through will and physical strength.

Underpinning Edwards’ efforts were a number of new contributors including Deshaun Fenwick (18 carries for 102 yards), Kevin Harris (rushing touchdown) and Xavier Legette (receiving touchdown). In all, eight different Gamecocks rushers combined for 205 yards. Freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski (24-31, 235 yards, 2 TDs) completed passes to seven different receivers. He was spelled throughout the night by Dakereon Joyner. Joyner did not attempt a pass, but he did force Vanderbilt to respect the quarterback keepers and contribute to the rushing total. The defense also did it’s part, limiting Vanderbilt to 189 yards and forcing two fourth-quarter interceptions.

South Carolina is stepping out of conference next week, hosting Appalachian State at 7 p.m.

Watch my recap from Williams-Brice HERE

Deshaun Fenwick saw his first extensive action of the season against Vanderbilt  (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)

Notes from the Gamecocks victory

  • Vanderbilt played much of the game with its 3rd-string quarterback, Deuce Wallace. Mo Hasan was unavailable after suffering a concussion and Riley Neal left early in this contest with an injury.
  • The Gamecocks outgained the Commodores  in yards 440-189. The offense was also remarkably balanced with 235 yards passing and 205 yards rushing.
  • South Carolina converted 9 of 15 3rd downs and limited Vanderbilt to 3 of 11 on 3rd down.
  • Quarterbacks coach Dan Werner swapped places with offensive coordinator Bryan McLendon: McLendon went from the sideline to the press box and Werner went from the press box to the sideline for this game.
  • Tight End Nick Muse caught one pass for 15 yards before being helped off the field with a significant limp. Will Muschamp said after the game that Muse’s knee would have to be scanned before they would know the severity of the injury.
  • Other injury news: Muschamp said wide receiver Shi Smith missed the game with a sore hamstring. Wide receiver Josh Vann may have broken his hand in the game. Muschamp expects running back Rico Dowdle and right tackle Dylan Wonnum to return for next game.
  • Official announced attendance at Williams-Brice: 71,945
  • Kicker Parker White is now tied for fourth in school history with 39 made field goals.

Final Stats

Gamecocks linebacker T.J. Brunson picked off a pass late and led the defense with six tackles. (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)

Will Muschamp press conference

Quarterback Dakereon Joyner and Wide Receiver Bryan Edwards 

Running Back Deshaun Fenwick and Cornberback Jaycee Horn