The Daily Gamecock

Second half surge propels Gamecocks past Knights

Courtesy of SGTV

In the first half against Central Florida, the Gamecocks struggled, looking much like they did against Georgia last week. However, a strong second half surge turned a 14-5 deficit into a 31-14 blowout win.

More of the same

After driving 12 plays to get a 52-yard field goal on their opening drive, the Gamecock defense stuffed the Knights. A missed field goal on the next drive gave the Knights good field position, but they could not capitalize.

Redshirt junior punter Sean Kelly pinned the Knights at their own two, and a tackle for loss in the end zone by freshman defensive end Boosie Whitlow gave the Gamecocks an unusual 5-0 lead. It was downhill from there until the break.

The Gamecock defense again stepped up to stop the Knights, but junior All-American receiver Pharoh Cooper muffed the ensuing punt inside the Gamecocks’ five-yard line. One play later, the 0-3 Knights held a 7-5 lead. UCF would add another score five minutes later to take a 14-5 lead.

The Gamecocks drove inside the 10, but settled for a 27-yard field goal before the half, trailing 14-8 at the break.

Third Quarter Comeback

South Carolina’s defense returned to its second half form from its first two games, allowing just 73 yards in the third quarter.

The Gamecock defense added two takeaways and provided the offense with pretty good field position for most of the quarter.

The Gamecocks took the lead on a broken play. Freshman quarterback Lorenzo Nunez threw a backward pass to Cooper, who looked for freshman receiver D.J. Neal deep. With Neal covered, Cooper reversed field, broke four tackles and followed a Nunez block into the endzone for six. The extra point put the Gamecocks ahead, 15-14.

After an interception by junior linebacker T.J. Holloman off a tipped pass, the Gamecocks capped a four play, 40-yard drive with Nunez’s first career touchdown pass, a 13-yard strike to freshman tight end Jacob August. The reception was August’s first career touchdown.

On the Knight’s next possession, Holloman stepped into the passing lane to grab his second pick of the game. The Gamecocks moved the score to 28-14 with a 35-yard Cooper touchdown reception four plays later. A 33-yard Elliott Fry field goal gave the Gamecocks a season-high 31 points.

Linebackers Shine

Head coach Steve Spurrier was apparently not happy with changes made at linebacker this week. However, the guys in the middle dominated the game. UCF averaged only 1.6 yards per carry, and junior linebacker Skai Moore and Holloman combined for 16 tackles and three pass breakups.

Holloman’s two interceptions are the second most on the team, behind Moore’s three. Senior spur T.J. Gurley led the team with 10 tackles.

Nunez Secures Starting Job

In his first career start, Nunez had a phenomenal day. The freshman was 12-22 with 184 yards and two touchdowns through the air and added 122 yards on the ground. Cooper led the Gamecocks with four receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown.

Quote of the Game

"I just wanted to go out there and see what I could do ... I played better in the second half ... I just got more comfortable." — Lorenzo Nunez


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