For most of Saturday’s game, the homecoming crowd in attendance at Williams-Brice Stadium were anxious, frustrated or downright miserable. But that was before Zeb Noland strutted onto the field and led South Carolina on a last-minute drive to pull off a 21-20 comeback victory over Vanderbilt. Noland was 5 for 8 for 75 yards and tossed the game-winning touchdown pass to Xavier Legette in less than a minute of playing time to send the faithful home happy.
Carolina built a 14-3 1st-quarter lead beneath a bright Columbia sky, but as the sun began to fade, so did the Gamecocks. South Carolina (4-3, 1-3 SEC) couldn’t get out of its own way for much of the game, committing ten penalties, four turnovers, and failing to score on three of its five trips in the red zone.
The worst of it took place after the offense failed to convert on 4th and 4 from the Vanderbilt 14-yard line midway through the second quarter. Between the failed conversion and Noland’s insertion on the final drive, the Gamecocks managed just 140 yards of offense, lost two fumbles and threw two interceptions. After an 82-yard touchdown pass from Luke Doty to Jaheim Bell in the first quarter, South Carolina came away dry on its next ten possessions. The usually stellar Parker White even missed a 38-yard field goal.
Offensively, it was a day of fits and starts. Just when you thought the offense had found a new gear, the wheels would come off. Marcus Satterfield’s unit put up 150 yards on the first two drives and just 23 yards on the next five.
South Carolina’s coaching staff now faces questions at two positions as not only did quarterback Zeb Noland outshine Luke Doty in limited action, but ZaQuandre White has made a case for starting consideration after leading the team with 65 yards rushing on just 12 carries.
The Gamecocks will be back on the road next week at Texas A&M. Kickoff from College Station is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.