Sept. 18, 2004
By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Troy Williamson set a school record with 210 yards receiving and hooked up with fill-in starter Syvelle Newton for three long touchdowns to lead South Carolina to a 34-3 victory over South Florida on Saturday night.
Williamson, the Southeastern Conference’s leader in receiving yards, finished with five catches and touchdowns of 56, 55 and 73. He broke the mark of 206 yards set by Zola Davis against Vanderbilt six years ago.
And the Gamecocks (2-1) may have a found a flashy, new quarterback-receiver combo.
Newton started because of a shoulder injury to senior Dondrial Pinkins, who was hurt last week in a 20-16 loss to Georgia. Newton and Williamson showed their chemistry right away against South Florida (1-1).
On South Carolina’s opening possession, Newton play-faked and dropped into the pocket before launching a perfect toss to the speedy Williamson for a 56-yard touchdown.
Newton hit Matthew Thomas on a 16-yard pass on a second-quarter drive then again looked long to Williamson, who this time tapped it to himself as he ran into the end zone to complete a 55-yard play.
In the final quarter, Newton released the ball right before he was hit, finding Williamson who set off on his 73-yard touchdown catch and gave the Gamecocks a 34-3 lead with 7:44 left.
Newton finished 13-of-23 for 324 yards, the best debut for a first-time South Carolina starting passer since Bill Troup threw for 318 yards in a 24-16 loss at Virginia in 1972.
South Florida fell to 0-4 against SEC opponents.
Newton had his jittery moments, too. He fumbled on a quarterback keeper at South Florida’s 5 in the second quarter to end a 69-yard drive. He overthrew a wide-open Noah Whiteside in the second quarter and then, in the third quarter, underthrew Williamson after the receiver broke past his defender. Newton was called for intentional grounding later that quarter when he chucked the ball into the ground as he was chased from behind.
But a play later, Newtwon spun away from a defender and connected on a 45-yard pass to Whiteside. Cory Boyd’s 14-yard touchdown run finished the drive.
Players typically don’t lose their jobs because of injuries under Gamecocks coach Lou Holtz. Newton, though, made a powerful case he should get more time.
South Florida, in its eighth season of football, had never played before a crowd as large as the 79,800 at Williams-Brice Stadium – and it showed.
The Bulls entered No. 1 nationally in total defense and stopped South Carolina on three plays after the opening kick. But cornerback Mike Jenkins ran into Gamecocks punter Josh Brown to keep the drive going, and one play later, Newton found Williamson for the pair’s first touchdown.
On the ensuing kickoff, South Florida return man J.B. Garris slipped on his own 7 without a defender in sight.
South Florida’s defense, which allowed only 145 yards total last week against Tennessee Tech, allowed nearly double that by halftime with South Carolina’s 283 yards.
The Bulls’ bright spot was a career-long 47-yard field goal as the first half ran out for senior Santiago Gramatica – the third of the three kicking Gramatica brothers. The youngest Gramatica’s previous long was a 45-yarder at Alabama last season.
South Florida was held without a touchdown for only the fifth time in its short history.