It was a game of firsts and defensive momentum for South Carolina in its 50-10 win over S.C. State.
Redshirt sophomore running back MarShawn Lloyd reeled in a five-yard pass for a touchdown late in the first quarter, the first first-quarter touchdown for South Carolina this season.
Junior defensive lineman Tonka Hemingway took a direct snap and rushed in for a two-point conversion after the score, giving the Gamecocks an 8-0 lead to end the first quarter. Eight is the highest first quarter scoring output by South Carolina in a regular season game since it scored 10 points against Florida last season.
Defensively, the Gamecocks carried momentum from the second half of its last game against Charlotte, forcing seven punts and three turnovers. Redshirt juniors defensive back Marcellus Dial and linebacker Bam Martin-Scott each had an interception.
Head coach Shane Beamer said he stressed the importance of turnovers to his defense over the last couple weeks but is confident they will continue to come once players find the right spots.
“We told them when we weren't getting (turnovers) early in the season, we didn't make a big deal about it. We just talked about continue to be in the right place and continue to play really, really hard and be around the football,” Beamer said. “And when you fly to the football, and you play hard, those turnovers tend to come and we're certainly going to need them going forward.”
Sixth-year linebacker Sherrod Greene had one of his better games of the season, tallying three tackles, assisting on a sack, and registering his first interception since 2018. Greene said watching the way his teammates played in the last two games is reassuring for defensive success.
“It definitely boosts our confidence and coming off of two games in a row that we win, so that’s a bit of a huge confidence boost for us,” Greene said. “Pretty much knowing that our guys can make plays when we're in the right spot and we're doing what we're supposed to do and following the coaches’ game plan and executing plays is a good thing for us.”
Despite only hurrying the quarterback once, the South Carolina secondary held the Bulldogs to just 75 passing yards on a 39% completion rate. Furthermore, only three receivers finished with positive yardage for S.C. State.
The Bulldogs were only able to convert once on 11 third-down tries throughout the game.
Overall, Beamer was happy with the defensive showing, noting that there was just one drive in which the players struggled to fill gaps on South Carolina State’s touchdown drive.
“They were good. I’m probably most disappointed in that first drive of the third quarter,” Beamer said. “We knew that they had some talented receivers that were going to make some plays, but didn't like that drive — a couple runs that we didn't fit the right way that popped out of there, and then an explosive pass down the field."
Redshirt senior defensive back RJ Roderick made his return after an injury against Charlotte, but other key members of the secondary remain out. Beamer thinks a deeper, healthier secondary moving forward will mitigate penalties and other mistakes.
“We’ve got to be better there, but we’re getting better. We can hopefully get Darius Rush back next week. That'll help, he's our starting corner,” Beamer said. "If we can get David (Spaulding) back, get Darius Rush back – those are two guys that we consider starters, our starters in the secondary, and will help that overall depth.”
Greene said the defense will look to keep the momentum going by “putting the ball down — you know, we're going to face adversity, changes, but it's up to us to adapt to it.”
The Gamecocks will be back in action next week after an eight-day break for a matchup on the road against No. 7 Kentucky on Oct. 8.