The South Carolina football team upset No. 13 Kentucky 24-14 Saturday night after the Wildcats starting quarterback Will Levis was ruled out before game time.
With the win in Lexington, head coach Shane Beamer earned his first win over a ranked opponent as head coach at USC. Coincidentally, it came against the same team that the Gamecocks played against two years ago when Shane Beamer found out he was going to be the next head coach.
“I’m sitting there watching it on television back in Norman, Oklahoma,” Beamer said after the game. “During the game is when coach (Ray) Tanner and Chance (Miller) reached out. I’ll never forget coach Tanner calling me and saying ‘you ready to do this?’ and I told him 'I’ve been waiting my whole life for you to say that.'”
The Gamecocks got blown out 41-18 during the game in December 2020. Beamer said he was happy those players on that team got to experience this win tonight with him.
“For those guys to go from that point where they were less than two years ago, to this night up here is pretty, pretty special,” Beamer said. “Our guys just battled and Kentucky’s a heck of a program, a heck of a team.”
On the game's first play, Kentucky tried to catch the Gamecocks off guard and attempted a trick play. The Wildcats running back received the ball and then attempted to reverse it to a wide receiver before South Carolina’s redshirt senior defensive back Darius Rush broke the play up and caused a fumble, which the Gamecocks recovered.
On the next play, redshirt sophomore running back MarShawn Lloyd ran the ball in for a touchdown to put South Carolina up early.
Lloyd continued his recent success on the ground in Lexington. He totaled 110 of South Carolina’s 179 rushing yards, averaging five yards per carry to go along with his lone touchdown.
“Our O-line … they’ve been amazing. It’s finally showing what they can do,” Lloyd said. “They showed today that on the road, that they can play anybody. And that’s exactly why we did so good, because the five up front did what they were supposed to do.”
Despite missing Levis, Kentucky did not shy away from passing the ball. Backup quarterback freshman Kaiya Sheron threw 27 passes and connected on 15 of them for 178 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
South Carolina had its own share of turnovers.
In the first quarter, the Gamecocks were in a good position to go up 14-0 after recovering a blocked punt. Three plays into the drive, redshirt junior quarterback Spencer Rattler fumbled the ball, giving Kentucky the ball back. In the last minute of the first half, Rattler threw an interception on Kentucky’s side of the field.
“I got to hold on to the ball on that one. That was a tough one, and then with the pick, you know, I just I should of put more into it, it was the right decision,” Rattler said. “We had opportunities.”
Other than the two turnovers, Rattler played an efficient game overall. He completed 14 out of 19 passes for 177 yards and one touchdown.
The Gamecocks' defense wrecked Kentucky behind the line of scrimmage. The team made eight tackles behind the line for a total of 71 yards lost. Six of those tackles for loss were sacks.
South Carolina earned its first win in SEC play this season and improved its overall record to 4-2. The team also captured its first road victory of the season.
“We got a great group of kids, we really do. It’s special, special, special young men and they work really, really hard,” Beamer said. “To see them be able to be rewarded for how hard they work and to come and win a game like this on the road in the SEC, I’m so happy for them."
The team will have a bye week next week before returning home to host Texas A&M on Oct. 22. Game time and broadcast information has not yet been released.