Despite blowing a 14-point halftime lead, the Black team came away with a 19-17 win in sudden death overtime in the Garnet & Black Spring Game on Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Redshirt senior quarterback Spencer Rattler opened up the game for the Black team with a four-minute, 66-yard touchdown drive that ended with a scoring pass to graduate student tight end Trey Knox.
Rattler would only play a handful of drives, ending his night in the middle of the second quarter with a 12-20 stat line that included the one touchdown and two sacks.
Redshirt freshmen quarterbacks Tanner Bailey and Braden Davis as well as redshirt sophomore Colten Gauthier saw playing time after Rattler for the Black squad. Of the three, Bailey played the most and finished 6-11 for 88 yards with one touchdown, two fumbles (one lost) and three sacks.
The Garnet team had redshirt junior Luke Doty as its starting quarterback. Doty went 7-14 for 41 yards with no touchdowns and was sacked four times as his team ended the first half down 17-3.
Freshman quarterback LaNorris Sellers took the reins for the Garnet team in the second half. Sellers went 3-8 for 66 yards with no touchdowns, no fumbles and two sacks overall, but his night included a 97-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter set up by a 50-yard completion to redshirt freshman receiver DJ Black.
“I thought all quarterbacks did some good things. (They've) got a lot of work to do, but they all flashed,” head coach Shane Beamer said. “(I'm) excited about the potential of that group.”
Knox and graduate student tight end Joshua Simon, who both transferred into the program since last season, led their respective teams in receptions. Knox had six catches for 40 yards and one touchdown, while Simon had five catches for 26 yards.
“I just came across the middle," Knox said. "I knew I was open, so I just kept running. Spencer put it on me — took a little shot — but we got six points, though."
Defensively, redshirt sophomore defensive back Joseph Byrnes and redshirt senior linebacker Bam Martin-Scott headlined for the Black team. Byrnes had 5.5 tackles, while Martin-Scott had four total tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss.
For the Garnet team, sophomore edge Bryan Thomas Jr. led with six tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss.
Redshirt sophomore linebacker Colin Bryant had the only interception of the game. Halfway through the fourth quarter, he returned an errant throw from Davis 45 yards for a pick six, which tied the game at 17.
After Bryant's touchdown, neither team was able to score in the last five minutes of regulation, prompting Beamer to create a sudden death 2-point conversion shootout for overtime on the fly.
After two failed attempts from the Garnet team and an incompletion from Bailey, sixth-year running back D.J. Twitty won the game for the Black team in the second overtime with a 3-yard rushing score.
“We, as coaches, were eager to see who was going to perform and step up under the lights,” Beamer said. “Some guys are just gamers, and when the lights come on and they get in front of a crowd, they elevate their game, and you notice them.”
During halftime, the spring practice awards were handed out. Rattler was honored as the Joe Morrison Offensive Player of the Spring, and redshirt sophomore defensive tackle T.J. Sanders was named Rex Enright Defensive Player of the Spring.
Sophomore defensive back DQ Smith and junior running back Juju McDowell split honors for Jim Carlen Special Teams Player of the Spring. McDowell was also awarded the South Carolina Spirit Award alongside Sanders and redshirt junior defensive tackle Alex Huntley.
The President’s Outstanding Student-Athlete Award winners were redshirt senior edge Tyreek Johnson and senior punter Kai Kroeger.
The Most Improved Award was given to sixth-year wide receiver/running back Dakereon Joyner, redshirt sophomore wider receiver O'Mega Blake, redshirt junior defensive back O'Donnell Fortune and redshirt junior running back Bradley Dunn. Graduate student offensive lineman Nick Gargiulo, Simon and Johnson received the Gamecock Toughness Award.
The South Carolina football team will re-open practice over the summer ahead of its 2023 season opener against North Carolina in Charlotte on Sept. 2, 2023.