The Daily Gamecock

Standout defensive performance lifts Gamecocks over Commodores

<p>Redshirt defensive tackle Alex Huntley shakes his hand after a successful defensive play on Nov. 11, 2023. The Gamecock defense held the Vanderbilt Commodores to 6 points in the 47-6 victory at Williams-Brice Stadium.</p>
Redshirt defensive tackle Alex Huntley shakes his hand after a successful defensive play on Nov. 11, 2023. The Gamecock defense held the Vanderbilt Commodores to 6 points in the 47-6 victory at Williams-Brice Stadium.

The South Carolina football team composed a near-perfect defensive performance and held Vanderbilt to 6 points in a 47-6 blowout win Saturday to keep the team's bowl hopes alive.

The Gamecocks allowed the lone touchdown early in the fourth quarter after shutting out the Commodores for three straight periods. 

The defense's performance stood out among others as it has allowed 31 points per game this season and, entering the contest, had not held an opponent to under 21 points

South Carolina's defense was effective in limiting the pass, with its cornerbacks and linebackers holding Vanderbilt quarterback Ken Seals to 104 passing yards on an average of 3.4 yards per attempt. 

"(We) played some drop eight coverage with it where we essentially had three safeties back there." Beamer said. "Credit Clayton and our defensive staff for putting a good plan together and a really good job overall because that is a team, like I've said, they've scored some points against people."

Sophomore defensive back Nick Emmanwori and redshirt junior defensive back O'Donnell Fortune played key roles in the secondary unit, locking down the opposing quarterback and tallying two pass deflections each. 

In his second career start, redshirt senior linebacker Bam Martin-Scott had a stellar game and led the team with 13 tackles. He also had a pass deflection and a sack, making his presence felt all around the field. 

“I prepare every week," Martin-Scott said. "When the moment came and my name was called, I just took advantage of the opportunity.” 

The game went south for Vanderbilt from the opening drive. A bad snap pushed the Commodores back to its own six-yard line to put the team at second and long. 

Fortune and sophomore linebacker Stone Blanton made tackles to stop the run on the second and third down to force the Commodores to punt on fourth down. The early stop resulted in a punt to the Gamecocks’ 49-yard line, setting up the offense with great field position. 

To end Vanderbilt’s second drive of the first quarter, redshirt junior defensive tackle Alex Huntley made a tackle for a loss of two yards that stopped Vanderbilt on third down. 

Huntley's defensive efforts were rewarded on the other side of the ball. For the second game in a row, the Gamecocks got its defensive players involved in the red zone. 

Huntley took the field on offense in a goal line situation, and junior quarterback Spencer Rattler threw the ball to him for a one-yard touchdown.

“I knew this was the big moment," Huntley said. "It was great. It was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.” 

The Gamecocks' defense went on to hold the Commodores to 42 total yards in second quarter. 

"I told them that we need to be a team that gets better as the game goes," Beamer said. "34-6 in the second half, we outscored them. That's awesome ... we came out there and got better as the game went."

The Gamecocks improved in the second half by forcing the Commodores to turn over the ball twice and returning a blocked punt for a 32-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 34-6. 

South Carolina's defense ended the game with 66 total tackles, eight pass deflections, three tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries in a big win late in the season as the team fights to contend for a bowl game.

South Carolina’s record moves to 4-6 overall. The defense will look to continue its success against Kentucky, which is entering the week off a blowout loss to Alabama. The two teams will face off next weekend at Williams-Brice Stadium, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.


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