South Carolina beats South Alabama 37-12 to become eligible for - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

South Carolina beats South Alabama 37-12 to become eligible for bowl

(Source: Gamecocksonline/Twitter) (Source: Gamecocksonline/Twitter)
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - University of South Carolina senior quarterback Dylan Thompson did something Saturday against South Alabama he had never done in his career with the Gamecocks: caught a touchdown pass.

But he wasn't the only Gamecock senior who closed out his career at Williams-Brice Stadium with a bang as South Carolina beat South Alabama 37-12. The win makes South Carolina eligible for a bowl bid.

Strong safety Brison Williams had two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. He ends the season with four interceptions.

Thompson threw for 237 yards and a touchdown and caught a pass for a score in the win. Thompson said he had been begging the coaches to run the play that set up his touchdown catch.

"We've probably ran that play in practice, 150 to 200 times, over the last few years," he said. "When I saw it signaled in, it was everything I could do to keep from going crazy. I knew it would be a touchdown."

Saturday was Senior Day as the Gamecocks hosted South Alabama in the last home game of the season. This was the first time the Gamecocks (6-5, 3-5 SEC) and the Jaguars (6-5, 5-3 Sun Belt Conf.) played each other.

The recently-maligned South Carolina defense now has gone five straight quarters without allowing a touchdown. All South Alabama scores were from field goals.

"Our defense really came to play in the second half -- held them to field goals. Our defense played super," said Head Coach Steve Spurrier. "Give our defensive kids some credit. They're really turned it around these past few games."

"We're starting to finish," said Defensive Coordinator Lorenzo Ward, who said he made some changes at halftime. "We adjusted some things. We made some changes but we wanted to play better and make our gaps."

Spurrier is pleased the Gamecocks get a chance to play an additional game this season. This is his 24th straight college season with at least six wins.

"It means a whole lot," he said. "To be bowl eligible, after three weeks ago, it's pretty dadgum neat."

"I knew it wasn't going to be easy," Spurrier said. "All those turnovers, it hit us. Fortunately the defense played so well."

Thompson threw one interception and the South Carolina offense fumbled five times, four of them recovered by the Jaguars. Two of those fumbles were from the hands of Mike Davis, who was pulled from the game.

"The fumbles got him sidelined," Spurrier said. "When two of the three times you touch it...we didn't know if he could hold onto the ball."

South Alabama ran 21 more plays than South Carolina, but the Jaguars also had five turnovers. South Carolina totaled 454 yards of offense in 57 plays. South Alabama managed 289 yards in 78 plays.

Coach Spurrier's wisdom for the week: "Make 'em kick field goals and you don't lose very often."

South Carolina plays in-state rival Clemson on the road next Saturday. Game time has yet to be determined.

Scoring:

South Carolina was first on the scoreboard, taking its first possession 49 yards, capped off by a 42-yard field goal by Elliot Fry with 12:02 in the first quarter to take the 3-0 lead. 

But the South Carolina defense couldn't stop the Jaguars on their first possession of the game, allowing South Alabama to take the ball 70 yards in 6:43 to tie it with a 29-yard field goal with 5:19 to to in the first quarter. 

The Gamecocks responded on their next offensive drive, taking the ball 73 yards in 2:38 and six plays, ending the drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Thompson to Nick Jones. 10-3 the score with 2:41 in the first quarter.

South Alabama made the score 10-6 with 11:42 in the second quarter on a Aleem Sunanon field goal.

After South Alabama forced Mike Davis to fumble on the Jaguars 26-yard line, Brison Williams intercepted Hunter Vaughn two plays later and returned it for a touchdown, putting South Carolina up 17-6 with 8:58 to go in the second quarter. 

A series of turnovers on South Carolina's end of the field resulted in an eventual 20-yard South Alabama field goal with :09 in the second quarter to make the halftime score 17-9 in favor of the Gamecocks. The ball exchanged possession four times in nine plays prior to the field goal. 

South Carolina scored first in the third quarter on an Elliot Fry career-long 47-yard field goal to make it 20-7 at 7:21. The Gamecocks had to settle for another field goal with 3:26 in the third quarter after failing to convert on third down. Fry's 24-yard field goal extended South Carolina's lead to 23-9. 

The Gamecocks extended their lead to 30-9 with 10:20 in the fourth quarter when Pharaoh Cooper threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Thompson in the back of the end zone. It was Thompson's first touchdown catch of his career with the Garnet and Black. 

On South Alabama's next possession, Skai Moore returned an interception to the Jaguars' 14 yard line, where the Gamecocks scored on the next play on David Williams' run to put South Carolina up 37-9.

South Alabama made the score 37-12 on a 41-yard field goal with 4:24 in the fourth quarter. 

South Carolina seniors honored before the game included Rory Anderson, Damiere Byrd, A.J. Cann, Ryland Culbertson, Jordan Diaz, Patrick Fish, Cody Gibson, Sharrod Golightly, Tyler Hull, Nick Jones, Kadetrix Marcus, Connor McLaurin, Sidney Rhodes, Corey Robinson, J.T. Surratt, Dylan Thompson and Brison Williams.

Mike Davis, Austin Hails, Coleman Harley, Matthew Harvey and Drew Owens also participated in Senior Day ceremonies despite having a year of eligibility remaining.

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