Sept. 6, 2003
By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. – So much for conservative ol’ Lou.
With South Carolina trailing 7-3 and pinned on its 1-yard line, Gamecocks coach Lou Holtz did the unthinkable – at least for him – changing a safe and steady run into a dangerous pass route.
The change worked perfectly. Dondrial Pinkins connected with Troy Williamson on a record-setting 99-yard touchdown play that helped South Carolina defeat No. 15 Virginia 31-7 on Saturday.
“You could see right after we scored the whole team lifted a little,” Pinkins said. “It gave us a lot of momentum.”
Pinkins added a 5-yard touchdown run and Daccus Turman had 123 yards rushing and a touchdown for South Carolina (2-0), which defeated a ranked opponent for the first time since beating then-No. 22 Ohio State 31-28 in the 2002 Outback Bowl.
Offensive lineman Travelle Wharton said Holtz’s call on the touchdown was not as surprising as it might appear.
“We needed a big play, and we felt like we could make a big play,” he said.
The Cavaliers, up 7-3 in the second quarter, had not permitted a South Carolina first down in its previous five defensive series and had just downed a punt at the Gamecocks 1 to set Pinkins up for more problems.
But on the first snap, Pinkins dropped back into his end zone and hit Williamson on the run as he cut left toward the center of the field. Williamson caught it near the 15, broke a tackle from safety Willie Davis and then edged past cornerback Jamaine Winborne and was gone for the touchdown.
Williamson knelt with his head bowed in the left corner of the end zone as teammates and fans at Williams-Brice Stadium celebrated wildly.
Holtz said he figured that the Cavaliers might hesitate on the run and the Gamecocks could catch the Cavaliers in man coverage on the speedy Williamson.
“And they were,” Holtz said. “Troy broke the one tackle and that was it. A real big play.”
The play broke South Carolina’s old mark of 97 yards, thrown by Todd Ellis to Robert Brooks in a win over East Carolina in 1988. It also tied the Southeastern Conference mark set by Florida’s Cris Collinsworth on a pass to Derrick Gaffney against Rice in 1977.
It may have crushed Virginia’s spirit.
“I was very embarrassed by the touchdown,” Virginia coach Al Groh said.
There was a lot for Virginia to be embarrassed about.
With senior quarterback Matt Schaub on the sideline with a separated right shoulder, the Cavaliers (1-1) were out of sync on offense. Schaub’s replacement, freshman Anthony Martinez, was rattled all game by South Carolina’s defense. He threw two interceptions and muffed a handoff with Alvin Pearman that set up Turman’s score.
Virginia managed only 17 yards passing in the first half and just 9 yards rushing in the second half. Overall, the Cavaliers were outgained 423-170.
“There’s no explanation or excuses why we played like that,” said Martinez, who was 10-of-20 for 54 yards. “We didn’t play like we should’ve. We have got to be ready to work harder.”
Virginia never recovered after Williamson’s touchdown.
Martinez and the Cavaliers got the ball back twice more in the quarter but went three-and-out both times. Things didn’t get much better in the second half. Jeremiah Garrison’s interception ended one Virginia drive in the third quarter. Pearman bobbled a handoff from Martinez and Moe Thompson recovered for South Carolina to stop another on the Virginia 11.
Turman, the first Gamecock to rush for 100 yards since quarterback Corey Jenkins had 101 in a loss to Georgia 12 games ago, put things out of reach two plays later with his 6-yard scoring run.