South Carolina nearly slipped on a banana peel on its way to win no. 3, Saturday, but regained its balance in time to put Troy away 23-14 at Williams-Brice Stadium. The self-inflicted wounds included ten penalties for 93 yards, a dropped pass on fourth down, a muffed punt, poor handoff exchanges and a premature celebration on a fumble return that flipped a sure Gamecocks touchdown into a touchback for the Trojans.
The wild play that halted South Carolina’s momentum took place late in the third quarter. With the Gamecocks (3-2) leading 20-14, Troy quarterback Taylor Powell was stripped of the ball by a blitzing Jaylan Foster. Damani Staley picked up the ball before fumbling himself. The play’s second fumble was scooped up by Jahmar Brown who carried it all the way for an apparent touchdown. But upon further review, Brown clearly launched into his celebration a stride early and he disposed of the prized football through the back of the end zone, resulting in the play’s third fumble, and a touchback in favor of Troy.
South Carolina’s defense regained its composure, however, holding Troy scoreless the rest of the way. On the day, Gamecock defenders produced four turnovers (two interceptions, two fumbles), including a 74-yard interception return for a touchdown by David Spaulding.
But one aspect of the defense that must improve is preventing third-down conversions. The Trojans were able to keep the Gamecocks offense sidelined time and again, converting 7 of 14 third-down attempts. South Carolina’s offense isn’t holding up its end of the bargain on third down, either, picking up just 4 of 13, Saturday, a week after going 3 of 12 on third down in a loss to Kentucky.
All things considered, it was a very strange day for the Gamecocks, with top wideout Josh Vann finishing as the team’s leading rusher (52 yards) and All-SEC running back Kevin Harris finishing as the team’s leading receiver (49 yards). The offense scored a single touchdown: A 16-yard pass from Luke Doty to E.J. Jenkins.
Here’s my recap from Williams-Brice Stadium: