The Daily Gamecock

Running game fuels Gamecocks' first win of season

<p>South Carolina football players celebrate in the end zone after scoring a touchdown. The Gamecocks beat the Vanderbilt Commodores 41-7 on Saturday, Oct. 10.</p>

South Carolina football players celebrate in the end zone after scoring a touchdown. The Gamecocks beat the Vanderbilt Commodores 41-7 on Saturday, Oct. 10.

The South Carolina Gamecocks earned their first win of the season Saturday with a 41-7 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores, in part due to their ground attack.

Sophomore running back Kevin Harris led the way with 171 rushing yards and two touchdowns, one of which went for a career long 88 yards. His 171-yard performance was also a personal best.

"[Harris] definitely balled out today," graduate transfer quarterback Collin Hill said.

Head coach Will Muschamp said he was impressed with what he saw out of his back today and said Harris was a back who "wears on people as the game continues to go.” Harris averaged 8.1 yards per carry.

With his performance, the Gamecocks controlled the game. The team ended with a total of five rushing touchdowns.

“Once we got some momentum, we didn’t stop,” senior tight end Nick Muse said.

Redshirt sophomore Dakereon Joyner got his first touch of the season following the announcement he would make the switch from quarterback to wide receiver. Joyner took his single carry of the game 47 yards for a touchdown.

“[Joyner's] too athletic not to be on the field,” Muse said.

Hill added two rushing touchdowns, meaning the Gamecocks had players at three different positions score rushing touchdowns. This diverse rushing attack allowed the team to amass a total of 289 yards on the ground.

“It’s fun when you’ve got a lot of people involved," Hill said.

The success of the ground game allowed for some success through the air as well. Hill ended the game with 196 passing yards and no interceptions or touchdowns. Hill said he was unbothered by not having a passing touchdown.

“I just like winning,” Hill said.

Muse was a key target for Hill throughout the day, ending with a team-high 85 receiving yards on five receptions. 

Despite having an SEC-leading 22 receptions in the first two games, senior wide receiver Shi Smith ended Saturday's game with 4 receptions for 46 yards.

On the other defensive side of the ball, junior linebacker Ernest Jones led the way with 13 tackles, including three tackles for a loss. Muschamp said the coaches have “put a lot on him in order for us to function defensively."

The South Carolina defense forced two turnovers as a unit, only giving up a single touchdown on a 22-yard reception by Vanderbilt junior wide receiver Cam Johnson.

“The morale is up, and we’re ready to go back again,” Jones said postgame.

The Gamecocks' next game is at home against the Auburn Tigers on Oct. 17. Kickoff is scheduled for noon at Williams-Brice Stadium.


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