COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina fans came to Williams-Brice Stadium looking to relive 2010 all over again in hopes of the Gamecocks putting together an upset against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Instead, Tua Tagovailoa put those thoughts to bed for the Carolina by putting together a career day. The junior quarterback was 28-of-36 for 444 yards and five touchdowns in Alabama’s win over the Gamecocks.
Bama struck first on the opening drive. Led by Tua Tagovailoa, the Tide marked 65 yards on five plays in just 1:39. The series was capped with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Najee Harris to give Alabama the early 7-0.
Carolina also got on the board with their first series of the day as well, but it wasn’t without drama. Ryan Hilinski was nearly picked off by Patrick Surtain, but a substitution penalty negated the takeaway giving the Gamecocks possession once again. Carolina, however, would only come away with a 44-yard field goal by Parker White.
Nick Saban’s squad responded on their third drive of the day. The fourth play of the series saw Tagovailoa connect with Henry Ruggs for an 81-yard touchdown pass to make it a 14-3 Alabama lead.
The Gamecocks’ offense stayed close. Hilinski connected with Shi Smith with a pass over two defenders that was good for a 31-yard touchdown pass to cut the Alabama lead to 14-10 with 1:49 left in the quarter.
Hilinski was 36-of-57 passing for 324 yards and two touchdowns on the day
Combined, both teams posted 273 passing yards while the run game proved to be ineffective with 28 total yards.
Following a Will Reichard field goal, Alabama extended its lead. Najee Harris showed off his power and agility by stiff-arming one defender and leaping over another on his way to the end zone for a 42-yard reception pushing the Tide’s lead to 24-10.
Tagovailoa was 16-of-22 in the first half with three touchdown passes while Harris had four catches for 76 yards and two scores.
Carolina had one more chance to close the gap before the half. The Gamecocks all the way down to the 1 in the final seconds of the half, but Carolina wasn’t able to put any points on the board before halftime.
Despite a third-quarter Parker White field goal, Alabama continued to pour it on in the third quarter. Tagovailoa added his fourth touchdown pass of the day on a 42-yard reception by DeVonta Smith. Alabama finished the quarter with a 34-13 lead.
Tagovailoa set career highs in completions (28) and passing yards (444) in a game. He tied career highs for longest pass (81) and touchdown passes in a game.
Meanwhile, the Gamecocks’ offense wasn’t able to respond offensively in the second half. While Will Muschamp’s squad was able to move the ball up and down the field in the second half, they only had six points to show for their efforts.
South Carolina falls to 1-2 on the year while Alabama improves to 3-0. The Gamecocks travel to Mizzou next Saturday at 4 p.m.