The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: Gamecock football outlasts Auburn 21-17, clinches bowl eligibility

<p>Redshirt senior ZaQuandre White runs out of the reach of Auburn safety Bydarrius Knighten (19) to score a touchdown. The Gamecocks defeated the Tigers 21-17 and are now bowl eligible for the first time since 2018.&nbsp;</p>

Redshirt senior ZaQuandre White runs out of the reach of Auburn safety Bydarrius Knighten (19) to score a touchdown. The Gamecocks defeated the Tigers 21-17 and are now bowl eligible for the first time since 2018. 

South Carolina beat Auburn 21-17 on Saturday to become bowl eligible in head coach Shane Beamer's first season and for the first time since 2018. 

The Gamecocks ran the ball efficiently and put together an impressive offensive performance through the air, bouncing back on multiple occasions to secure the victory.

After the game, Beamer was very emotional talking about how proud he was of the team for bouncing back after the loss to Missouri last week.

"It was pretty special,” Beamer said at a press conference. "We use the word 'love' a lot and told each other we love each other and how happy I was for them. It was pretty awesome. It’s what you imagine it being, and that’s what it was."

The first quarter was all Auburn, as the Tigers scored twice to put the Gamecocks on the ropes early on. The second Auburn touchdown drive came after Gamecock redshirt senior quarterback Jason Brown was intercepted.

Brown didn't let the play get to him; he finished the game 10-15 for 157 yards and three touchdowns through the air.

"My mentality was just, next play. We always talk about next play. Interceptions are going to happen. Fumbles are going to happen," Brown said.

Two of Brown's touchdowns came in the second quarter. One was a momentum-swinging 28-yard touchdown to senior running back ZaQuandre White. On the following drive, Brown found redshirt freshman offensive lineman turned fullback Trai Jones for a three-yard score to tie the game at 14 entering the half.

Jones, who was recruited to come to South Carolina as an offensive lineman and is still listed as such but has since changed roles for Beamer's offense, joked it was his first career college catch was his first in a while.

"I played fullback my junior and senior year (of high school), but I didn't touch the ball so this is my first time catching a ball maybe since I was 10 or 11," Jones said in a postgame press conference.

Auburn hit a 37-yard field goal to go up 17-14 midway through the third quarter, yet Brown and the Gamecocks responded once more.

Brown found senior wide receiver Josh Vann for a seven-yard touchdown to make it 21-17. The score was set up by a 40-yard connection to White that brought the momentum back to the Gamecocks.

Auburn sophomore kicker Ben Patton missed a 25-yard field goal that would've brought the game to within 1 point early in the fourth. The Gamecocks sealed the deal when sophomore punter Kai Kroeger's 36-yard punt bounced off the Auburn returners leg and was recovered by senior defensive back R.J. Roderick.

Auburn sophomore running back Tank Bigsby had received a lot of talk from the media entering the game and lived up to all of it Saturday. Bigsby carried the ball 22 times for 164 yards and a touchdown in the loss.

Both teams proved to run the ball efficiently: Auburn finished with 191 yards on the ground while the Gamecocks finished with 149 yards. The Gamecocks were led by White, who carried 16 times for 99 yards while adding three catches for 69 yards and a touchdown.

South Carolina takes on rival Clemson at Williams-Brice Stadium next Saturday. The kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.


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