South Carolina (7-6, 4-4 SEC) fell to the Virginia Cavaliers (8-5, 4-4 ACC) 28-0 in the Belk Bowl on Saturday with several missed opportunities.
This was South Carolina’s first appearance in the Belk Bowl. Prior to this game, South Carolina was a perfect 3-0 at Bank of America Stadium, with each of the three wins against North Carolina schools in regular season games. Virginia was 2-0 at Bank of America Stadium prior to this game, with their last win coming in 2003.
The 2018 Belk Bowl was no different for the Cavaliers in a familiar territory as they picked up their eighth win of the season.
“Nobody wants to go out like this,” linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams said. “Adversity has been with this program since I’ve been here. It’s all about overcoming adversity.”
The Gamecocks faced a lot of adversity Saturday as both teams got off to slow starts on the offensive side of the ball.
Virginia scored their first touchdown of the game with a six-yard pass from Bryce Perkins to Olamide Zaccheaus with three minutes and thirty seconds left in the first quarter. This touchdown pass would cap a 13 play, 77-yard drive.
The Gamecocks struggled to put together long, productive drives. South Carolina got close to the redzone at the start of the second quarter, but Parker White's missed 45-yard field goal attempt kept the score at 7-0 in favor of Virginia.
Virginia kept the ball for the next eight minutes and ten seconds, scoring a touchdown just before halftime on a nine-yard run from Jordan Ellis. This drive was 14 plays and 90 yards as Virginia took a 14-0 lead into halftime.
The Cavilers outgained the Gamecocks 197-160 in total yards in the first half. Virginia held the ball for 20 minutes and 19 seconds, while the Gamecocks only held possession for nine minutes and 41 seconds.
South Carolina did not improve in the second half.
Zaccheaus scored his second touchdown of the day on a 10-yard pass from Perkins with just over seven minutes remaining in the third quarter to put Virginia up 21-0.
The Virginia defense frustrated quarterback Jake Bentley and the Gamecock offense, forcing turnovers and three-and-outs. Virginia built its lead to 28-0 after Zaccheaus scored his third touchdown of the game on a 12-yard pass from Perkins.
Perkins finished the game with 81 rushing yards and 208 passing yards, completing 22 of his 31 pass attempts.
“He [Bryce Perkins] kept drives alive on third down,” head coach Will Muschamp said. “His legs were the difference in the game, and we knew that coming in.”
This is what Virginia needed to shutout South Carolina 28-0.
Virginia finished with 413 yards of offense on 79 plays, while the Gamecocks had 261 yards on 58 plays. Bentley completed 17 of his 39 passes for 218 passing yards, throwing two interceptions.
This is the first bowl game shutout in school history for the Gamecocks.
“Every time you play in a bowl game, a team has different looks that they’ve schemed up,” Bentley said. “They did a really good job of disguising their coverages. We didn’t play well enough. I think that’s the biggest thing.”
Despite the loss in Charlotte, Muschamp is looking forward to the future of South Carolina football and what is to come during the off season.
“We’ve recruited well,” Muschamp said. “We’ve got a lot of good players coming back. We had a really good signing class in December. We are going to add about thirteen of those guys to our roster in January.”