South Carolina fans endured a choppy first half before the home team treated them to a second-half fireworks display in a 56-20 victory over Charlotte at Williams-Brice Stadium, Saturday.
Despite scoring on its first four possessions and posting 282 yards of offense through two quarters, the Gamecocks (2-2) were unable to wrestle control, leading just 20-14 at intermission. South Carolina squandered a golden opportunity on the game’s first drive, settling for a field goal moments after being set up with Second and Goal from the two-yard line. The 49ers answered with an 89-yard touchdown drive that put the Gamecocks on their heels and chewed up much of the first quarter.
Charlotte converted its first seven third down opportunities, keeping Spencer Rattler and the offense sidelined much of the first half. The Gamecocks defense recklessly rushed the passer time and again, only to see a well-executed screen pass float over their heads, delivering with it another clean set of downs. But the Gamecocks made the necessary adjustments and came out of the locker room firing, hitting on six plays of 10 yards or more and outscoring the 49ers 22-0 in the third quarter. Marshawn Lloyd scored two of his three touchdowns in the quarter and the Gamecocks defense picked off three passes in the span of nine minutes.
South Carolina clearly wanted to establish the run and Lloyd took full advantage, rushing for 169 yards on 15 carries, setting career marks in both categories. Lloyd punctuated his big night with a highlight-worthy hurdle over a Charlotte defender en route to the end zone. With the focus on the ground game, Rattler attempted just 23 passes, completing 17 for 187 yards. It was more than enough as the combination of Lloyd and Christian Beal-Smith piled up 224 yards rushing and five touchdowns.
The Gamecocks will look to win consecutive games for the first time since the beginning of last season when they play host to SC State for a noon kickoff next week.