COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Three has always been the magic number for defenses across college football, but that's in reference to takeaways.
South Carolina came up with three defensive touchdowns in the second half to help the Gamecocks spoil David Williams' homecoming and beat Arkansas 48-22.
"I'm really pleased with how our football team responded," said Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp. "It was a gut-wrenching loss last week. We spilled our guts and played really hard in the game. We just never really found a way to get a move in offensively or get a stop on defense. Always as a coach when you go through that and see the hurt in the locker room, you're worried about the next week regardless of the circumstances."
"I want to take this [opportunity] to thank our fans for an unbelievable environment. I thought we played a clean game, until late in the game defensively. That was embarrassing. I thought offensively we established the run well. We wore them down in the third quarter. We ran the ball well. Defensively, we had some huge plays with turnovers. I told [Arkansas head coach] Bret [Bielema] at the end, you can't win with those turnovers and turnovers with scores off of that. I'm extremely proud of our football team and the way we responded today."
South Carolina missed an early opportunity to put points on the board in the first quarter. After driving down the field, Parker White's first field goal attempt from 46 yards out would be missed giving Arkansas the ball.
The Gamecocks would get the ball back after Chris Lammons forced Cheyenne O'Grady to fumble. White would redeem himself with a 33-yard field goal to put Carolina ahead 3-0.
After Arkansas tied it up in the third quarter with their own field goal, Carolina posted the first touchdown of the day in the second quarter. A 62-yard pass from Jake Bentley to Hayden Hurst put the Gamecocks on top 10-3 while giving Hurst the longest reception of his career.
Arkansas responded with 8:26 left in the first half. Austin Allen's 5-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Jones knotted the game at 10 to cap a 12-play, 75-yard drive.
Carolina responded just before halftime. The Gamecocks drove 69 yards and finished the series with an 18-yard pass from Bentley to Bryan Edwards to make it 17-10 in favor of Carolina at the half.
"B-Mac (Bryan McClendon) does a great job of telling all the receivers, if the ball is in the air, it's your ball," said Edwards. "Doesn't matter what type of throw it is, anything, anything going on around you, the DB is holding you or nothing like that. When the ball is in the air, you've got to attack it and you've got to make a play."
South Carolina outgained Arkansas 223-103 in total yards in the first half.
Following a 29-yard field goal by Parker White, the Gamecocks defense stepped up. Austin Allen was pressured out of the pocket and threw an errant pass, which was picked off by Skai Moore. The interception was Moore's 13th career interception and the 34-yard return made it 27-10 Carolina.
USC's defense wasn't done there. A strip sack by Dante Sawyer would allow TJ Brunson to scoop the loose ball and return it 73 yards for a touchdown making it 34-10.
"It's huge to have that,"' Bentley said of the two third-quarter turnovers. "It takes some pressure off of us and their confidence is through the roof right now. Coach Muschamp really challenged them before the game to be physical and stop the run and they did a great job of that today."
The Gamecocks held Arkansas to just 50 yards in the third quarter while collecting an interception and a fumble.
Bentley helped the Gamecocks continue to pour it on in the fourth quarter. After orchestrating an 11-play, 60-yard drive, the sophomore quarterback hit Ty'Son Williams for a 3-yard pass to push the lead to 41-10.
South Carolina would add another defensive touchdown while Arkansas posted two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The Gamecocks' three defensive scores marks the first time in the school's modern history that this has ever happened.
The Gamecocks will travel to Tennessee next Saturday at noon.