Man, y’all, this game had it all. Great scoring drives (yay!), nice defensive plays (woo hoo!), and multiple displays of THE BEST QB BROMANCE TO EVER EXIST (hooray!).
It also had some less-than-good parts, like what happened when South Carolina let Vandy get back in the game, but alas, nothing is perfect (except the Connor Shaw/Dylan Thompson bromance). With the 35-25 win, the Cocks are now tied with Georgia for the second-longest home winning streak in the country, at 13 games. Shaw also improves to 12-0 as a starter at Williams-Brice.
USC got off to a good start, as Shaw hit who? Nick Jones! for a touchdown less than five minutes into the game. The Gamecocks tacked on another TD, this time courtesy of Mike Davis, and then added another on a run by Thompson that prompted my NEW FAVORITE THING EVER, which was an incredible celebration handshake dance thing between Shaw and Thompson. THE QB BROMANCE IS SO STRONG AND I LOVE IT.
With his team up 21-0 after the first quarter, Bruce Ellington got in on the action early in the second, with a nice catch in the end zone on a 26-yard pass from Shaw. Then it was the ‘Dores’ turn to get on the board. They scored twice in the final three and a half minutes of the half, the first a touchdown that came after Thompson got picked off and the defense forgot how to tackle as Steven Clarke ran 69 yards to the 1-yard line, and the second a Casey Spears field goal that was good from 54 yards out, to make the score 28-10 heading into the locker room.
Carolina got their final score of the night when Shaw hit Brandon Wilds for a 33-yard TD in the third quarter. Vanderbilt wouldn’t go away, though, and they really made things interesting in the fourth quarter. They opened the final 15 minutes with a touchdown from QB Austyn Carta-Samuels, then recovered a fumbled kickoff return and found the end zone again just 15 seconds later.
Fortunately, that was the end of their scoring, Jimmy Legree intercepted Carta-Samuels at the goal line, and Shaw and the Gamecocks were able to run out the remainder of the clock.
Though the HBC got quite heated on the sidelines and threw his visor multiple times (although he told Holly Rowe he didn’t…), he seemed pleased with the overall outcome, even saying the offense might have looked the best it ever has during his tenure.
Shaw finished the night an impressive 21-of-29 for 284 yards and three TDs, while Carta-Samuels was 12-of-22 for 147 yards, a touchdown, and a pick. Shaw also led USC in rushing with 19 carries for 84 yards, while Ellington led them in receiving with eight catches for 111 yards and a TD. Wesley Tate had 71 yards on 10 carries and Jordan Matthews had eight receptions for 106 yards to lead the Commodores.
The Cocks rolled up 579 yards of offense compared to Vandy’s 268 and more than doubled them in first downs, 31-14. Both teams were good on third down conversions, going 2-for-3 and 3-for-3, respectively, but they also both turned the ball over a few times, with Carolina doing so three times and the ‘Dores twice. In other stats of note, the Gamecocks had the ball for more than 37 minutes and Vanderbilt went penalty-free for the entire game.
South Carolina improves to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the SEC, while the Commodores drop to 1-2 overall and 0-2 in conference play. The Cocks will be off next weekend before traveling to play UCF in two weeks, while Vandy will be on the road next weekend to take on UMass.