The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: Gamecock football escapes Vanderbilt 21-20 in nail-biter

<p>Gamecock football players celebrate junior wide receiver Xavier Legette after he caught the winning touchdown pass. The Gamecocks defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores with a touchdown in the fourth quarter.&nbsp;</p>

Gamecock football players celebrate junior wide receiver Xavier Legette after he caught the winning touchdown pass. The Gamecocks defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores with a touchdown in the fourth quarter. 

The South Carolina football team managed to beat Vanderbilt 21-20 on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks were propelled by graduate student quarterback Zeb Noland's late-game heroics to fight back and pull off the win. 

South Carolina's defense came up clutch-forcing Vanderbilt to a field goal late in the fourth quarter, allowing the offense enough time to march down the field and win the game. 

“We don’t let anyone write the story for us,” Beamer said following the roller coaster win which marks his first in the SEC as a head coach.

The game's scoring was opened on the first drive when sophomore quarterback Luke Doty found fifth-year tight end Nick Muse in the end zone for the two-yard score.

The second Gamecock drive was a quick one as Doty found sophomore tight end Jaheim Bell for an 82-yard touchdown play. Bell caught the ball in space with one defender to beat and stiff-armed his way into the endzone for the score. 

As the first quarter came to a close and South Carolina was up 14-3, it looked like the Gamecocks had full control of the game. 

Turnovers wreaked havoc for the Gamecock offense. A costly fumble from redshirt freshman MarShawn Lloyd deep in Gamecock territory gave the Commodores life late in the second quarter. Sophomore tailback Rocko Griffin pushed his way into the end zone on the ensuing drive.

Vanderbilt scored following two more costly second-half turnovers from the Gamecock offense inside of its own territory. 

Vanderbilt's sophomore quarterback Mike Wright made his first career start in the hostile environment and showed out. Wright showed poise in tight moments of the game and was the driving force in the Vanderbilt offense. Wright finished 11/21 for 206 yards passing and a touchdown and had 15 carries for 41 yards in an impressive debut. 

Vanderbilt's field goal late in the fourth seemed to have put the game away. Beamer called on graduate student quarterback Zeb Noland as the team's last glimpse of hope with one minute and 36 seconds left in the game. 

Noland dissected the defense, leading to a 75-yard touchdown drive to take the lead at 21-20. 

"I've always told quarterbacks that played in front of me just smile in bad situations," Noland said when asked how he handled pressure late in the game. His teammates were telling him just that, he said. 

Junior wide receiver Xavier Legette returned from injury with four catches for 31 yards and the game-winning touchdown from Noland. Legette suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident that left him sidelined for the first five games of the season. 

"I've still got some open wounds, but I just get them wrapped them up before the game and I just go out there," Legette said following his breakout performance. "Whatever happens, happens, if the wounds open up I just try and keep them covered and still play."

Sophomore punter Kai Kroger had four punts that averaged 56.8 yards per punt on the afternoon, a season-best by more than 10 yards. 

The Gamecocks will travel to College Station, Texas next week to play Texas A&M at 7:30 p.m. 


Comments