The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks defeat Chattanooga, clinch bowl eligibility on Senior Night

South Carolina (6-4, 4-4 SEC) defeated the Chattanooga Moccasins (6-5, 4-4 SoCon), 49-9, on Senior Night to clinch bowl eligibility for the third consecutive season.

The Gamecocks got off to a good start after Javon Kinlaw blocked a 42-yard field goal attempt on Chattanooga’s opening drive. South Carolina’s offense did not wait to get the scoring started, as Jake Bentley completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Turner to put the Gamecocks up 7-0 early in the game. 

South Carolina continued to dominate in the first quarter with a stellar defensive and offensive performance. Jake Bentley found A.J. Turner in the end zone for a six-yard touchdown pass to put the Gamecocks up 14-0 late in the first quarter.

Chattanooga would get on the board with a 36-yard field goal early in the second quarter, but South Carolina responded with a 68-yard drive of its own. A.J. Turner scored his third touchdown of the game with an 11-yard run to put the Gamecocks up 21-3.

"I feel like maybe stat-wise, this is probably my best game,” Turner said. “I had three touchdowns, but I’d like to give credit to Jake and my o-line for allowing me to do it.”  

On this drive, Bryan Edwards became the 10th player in Gamecock football history to record 2,000 receiving yards overall in his career.

The Gamecock defense continued to shut down the Moccasins in the second quarter, while South Carolina’s offense kept its rhythm. Mon Denson recorded his second touchdown of the season with a one-yard touchdown run to cap a 70-yard drive.

South Carolina would take a 28-3 lead into halftime.

South Carolina had 299 yards of offense on 42 plays in the first half, while Chattanooga recorded 164 yards on 32 plays. The Gamecocks capitalized in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on all four red zone drives in the first half.

“I think our guys came out and handled business like they’re supposed to do in a game like this,” head coach Will Muschamp said. “I’m pleased with our preparation all week, very business-like.”

The Gamecock offense would not slow things down to start the second half, as Jake Bentley completed a 53-yard touchdown pass to Shi Smith on the opening drive to increase South Carolina’s lead to 35-3. The Gamecocks and Moccasins would keep each other off the board for the remainder of the third quarter, as South Carolina took a 35-3 lead into the fourth quarter. 

On the opening play of the fourth quarter, Jake Bentley completed a 61-yard touchdown pass to Deebo Samuel to increase South Carolina’s lead to 42-3. This would match Bentley’s career high of four touchdown passes in a single game.

“Jake’s played really good football for us,” Muschamp said. “He’s completing close to 70 percent of his passes, and we’re throwing the ball down the field. He’s played at a very high level since the second half of the Texas A&M game against some very good defenses.”

Later in the fourth quarter, Deshaun Fenwick would record his first career touchdown with a two-yard rush to make it 49-3 South Carolina. Chattanooga scored its first and only touchdown of the game with under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter with a two-yard pass from Bryce Nunnelly to Nick Tiano. 

“I thought Deshaun ran hard for his first opportunity getting into a game-like atmosphere,” Muschamp said. “I thought he ran through contact and did some nice things.” 

South Carolina would defeat the Moccasins 49-9 and clinch bowl eligibility for the third consecutive season under Will Muschamp. 

“It’s an expectation here,” Muschamp said, referring to bowl eligibility. “That’s something I expect every year.” 

The Gamecocks now turn their attention to in-state rival and No. 2 ranked Clemson. The Palmetto Bowl is set to kick off at 7 p.m. on ESPN next Saturday, Nov. 24.