Florida’s run game proved to be too much for South Carolina, who gave up 374 rushing yards in the 38-6 defeat in The Swamp Saturday night.
The win puts Florida and South Carolina in equal positions on the season, both holding a 6-4 overall record to reach bowl eligibility and each with a 3-4 record in conference play.
The first drive for Florida set the tone early, consisting of 11 runs. This resulted in a rushing touchdown for the Gators' sophomore quarterback Anthony Richardson. South Carolina, who has struggled against the run this season, faced a team with an incredible front line led by highly rated guard prospect, junior O’Cyrus Torrence.
The running game remained strong for Florida, as freshman running back Trevor Etienne took a handoff for an 85-yard touchdown late in the first quarter. This run was Florida’s longest play of the season and stretched the home team's lead to 21-0.
On the other side of the ball, the Gamecocks remained committed to getting the ball to junior tight end turned running back Jaheim Bell, but the Gators' defensive front kept him quiet. Bell finished the game with 12 carries for just 30 yards.
“They scored the first three times they touched the ball, and we couldn’t stay on the field," head coach Shane Beamer said.
The one bright spot for the Gamecocks came from special teams plays, highlighted by junior punter Kai Kroeger. With less than two minutes to play in the first half, the Gamecocks faked a punt, and Kroeger’s pass to senior wide receiver Dakereon Joyner was taken to the end zone for a touchdown. This 48-yard touchdown pass from Kroeger was his fifth completed pass of the season.
Florida's run game dominated the game. The Gators rushed for 281 yards in the first half, averaging 10.4 yards per carry. The Gamecocks struggled to get anything going in the first half, only tallying 112 yards of offense in the first half of action.
South Carolina’s struggles continued in the second half, with three fumbles occurring across just four offensive plays.
“When you go out on offense in the third quarter and go turnover, turnover, turnover in what, four plays? I don’t know if I have ever seen that," Beamer said. “We obviously have to be a whole lot better at ball security and protecting the football.”
Florida sophomore running back Montrell Johnson Jr. added the final touchdown for the Gators late in the fourth quarter with an eight-yard rushing touchdown. Johnson finished with 161 yards on 24 carries and scored one touchdown. Before Anthony Richardson took a six yard sack in the fourth quarter, three Gators had over 100 rushing yards.
The Gamecocks will face No. 5 Tennessee in next week’s matchup at 7 p.m., in the final home game for South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium this season.