South Carolina football bookended its three-game homestand with a 50-10 victory over South Carolina State on Thursday night. The game was rescheduled from Saturday due to impending inclement weather from Hurricane Ian.
The win marks the second week in a row the Gamecocks scored 50 points or more, an achievement the team hasn't made for more than 25 years.
“We just continue to get better, we’re a work in progress, we’re five games in," head coach Shane Beamer said after the win. "I think we’re a better football team than we were two or three weeks ago."
South Carolina was able to find the endzone on its third drive of the game to open the scoring after a slow offensive start. That came after junior quarterback Spencer Rattler threw a deep pass on the second play of the game which was tipped by senior receiver Xavier Legette and a defensive back before being intercepted by a different defender.
The home team bounced back with solid defense throughout the opening half and sixth-year linebacker Sherrod Greene came up with an interception halfway through the second quarter.
Rattler again tried to find Legette in the second quarter — this time in the red zone — but the receiver let the ball slip through his hands. The Bulldogs' defense capitalized on the miscue with a second interception.
South Carolina went into the half with a 22-0 lead despite the pair of turnovers from the offense. The Gamecocks recorded 206 yards of total offense in the first half while the Bulldogs committed 11 penalties leading to 112 penalty yards before the break.
“The story of the first half were turnovers on offense and penalties on defense, way too many pass interference calls, but in the first half, I thought we did a lot of really, really good things,” Beamer said.
The visiting Bulldogs put together an impressive 75-yard touchdown drive to open the second half and close the deficit. South Carolina State used a mix of rushing and passing plays, including a 23-yard completion, to quickly move down the field and get on the scoreboard.
After South Carolina State’s offensive cameo, the Gamecocks quickly restored control with a pair of touchdown drives to close out the third quarter. Graduate tight end Austin Stogner scored on his only catch of the game, a 15-yard reception, and graduate running back Christian Beal-Smith punched it into the end zone from the one-yard line for the third quarter touchdowns.
“Really proud of the way our offense responded tonight to some adverse situations, never blinked just kept coming back out there,” Beamer said. “And then the turnovers that we were able to create — we told them at halftime that we needed to get better as a football team in the second half, and I feel like we did.”
The defense finished with three interceptions on the night in route to holding South Carolina State to just 10 points in the game. The Gamecocks also tallied 63 interception return yards leading to easy scoring opportunities for the offense throughout the contest.
The Gamecocks’ offense executed at a high level on Thursday night. Rattler completed 21 of his 27 pass attempts for 212 yards and two touchdowns along with the two interceptions. The rushing attack for the home team also contributed 185 yards with redshirt sophomore running back MarShawn Lloyd leading the way. Lloyd ran it 11 times for 80 yards and scored a touchdown.
“I feel like we’ve just been getting better each week," Lloyd said postgame. "Next week actually with SEC play, it's is a little different, but I feel like our team is confident enough to be able to do the same thing we’ve been doing now with SEC teams."
South Carolina 3-2 (0-2 SEC) has a nine-day break before traveling to Lexington, Kentucky, to take on the No. 7 Kentucky Wildcats and begin the bulk of its SEC schedule.
The game will be played Saturday, Oct. 8, at 7:30 p.m., and will be aired on the SEC Network.