USC freshman kicker Elliott Fry, at 150 pounds, is the smallest of the Gamecock players. But he provided the biggest points of the night in a come from behind 19-14 win over Florida that keeps alive the Gamecocks’ hopes for the SEC East title. With Georgia losing earlier in the day to Auburn, the Gamecocks need only for Missouri to lose one of its two final games, Ole Miss on the road and Texas A&M at home, to win the East and advance to the SEC Championship Game for a second time.
While Florida’s offense was greatly limited by injuries at quarterback and on the offensive line, there was nothing wrong with the Gator defense. They kept the Gamecocks out of the endzone except for one spectacular play, a fourth down, 32 yard pass from Connor Shaw to Bruce Ellington early in the third quarter.
The Gamecocks drove inside the Florida 30 on five other occasions and on four of them Fry came thru with field goals. He hit from 25, 45 (career best), 22 and 43 yards. His miss was just wide right from 38 yards.
Fry’s last two field goals in the fourth quarter provided the winning points as the Gamecock defense shut out the Gators in the second half holding them to just 130 yards. He put the Gamecocks ahead for good 16-14 with 6:43 to play but not before some controversy.
Shon Carson got the drive moving with a career best 58 yard run from the Gamecock 5 to the Florida 37. That was the longest run this season against the Gator defense. Shaw later hit Rory Anderson for 34 yards to the Florida 2. On third and goal from the three, Shaw lobbed the fade to the left side for Shaq Roland who appeared to have made the catch with a foot in-bounds. However, it was ruled incomplete and the review confirmed that ruling, much to the dismay of the Gamecock fans. So with turmoil all around him, Fry calmly stepped up and nailed the 22 yarder for the lead.
He added a 43 yarder four and a half minutes later, and when Jimmy Legree intercepted Skyler Mornhinweg at the Gamecock 36, the game was all but over. Florida did get one more play from its own one, and a 14 yard pass ended the game.
It was a physical game as USC saw Jadeveon Clowney, Gerald Dixon and Mike Davis all go down with lower leg injuries that cost them snaps, but all three did return to the game.
With Davis and Brandon Wilds ailing (Wilds did not play due to a hamstring injury), Carson stepped into the void at running back and responded with a career high 102 yards on 13 carries.
Shaw struggled with his passes and over threw a number of open receivers. He finished 14-28 for 213 yards and the one touchdown and rushed for a season’s low 3 yards on 8 carries. But he did pick up his 24th win as a starter tying Todd Ellis for that record at USC.
The Gamecocks managed 377 yards on 63 plays, the second lowest yardage output of the season. But the defense only allowed 307 yards on 55 plays, 41 of them rushes. Clowney had one of his best games of the season with 5 tackles including 2 tackles for loss.
The Gamecocks extend their home winning streak to a school record 16 and did so in front of a season’s high 83,853 fans, most of whom staying to the end. USC is now 8-2 overall and 6-2 in the SEC, their third straight season of six SEC victories.
USC will host Coastal Carolina next Saturday with kickoff at 1:00 PM.