Sept. 15, 2007
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Blake Mitchell threw three touchdowns and No. 17 South Carolina defeated South Carolina State 38-3 Saturday to make the Gamecocks 3-0 for the first time in six years.
South Carolina won its sixth consecutive game and the defense didn’t allow a touchdown for the second straight.
That streak — and South Carolina’s perfect start — will get severely tested next week with a trip to No. 2 LSU.
The numbers looked strong for South Carolina.
Mitchell finished 14-for-21 for 147 yards. Cory Boyd (132) and Mike Davis (102) went over 100 yards rushing, but the Gamecocks’ offense looked lost for a half against the Bulldogs (1-2).
Mitchell had three interceptions and a fumble to go with his touchdown throws. Backup Tommy Beecher added an interception and a fumble of his own.
It got so bad, Gamecock coach Steve Spurrier chose to run the ball much of the second half. And that’s when South Carolina finally put away its Championship Subdivision rivals.
Davis rushed for 43 yards and finished a 91-yard TD drive with a 9-yard catch from Mitchell.
Two series later, Boyd broke free for a 29-yard scoring run and the Gamecocks were up 31-3.
Spurrier called only two passes in the third quarter. Then again, he didn’t have to get creative the way South Carolina’s defense played.
The Gamecocks picked off three passes of their own, lineman Nathan Pepper returning one 19-yards for a touchdown to put them ahead for good, 7-3.
South Carolina State had just 46 yards passing through three quarters.
The Bulldogs are celebrating 100 years of football at the historically black college. It’s the first time, however, they’ve played their larger state rivals about 45 minutes up the road.
The 73,000 at Williams-Brice Stadium was the largest crowd South Carolina State had played in front of and it showed.
The Bulldogs got an early chance to make an impact when Markee Hamlin got Mitchell’s first interception to set South Carolina State up on the Gamecocks 12.
But penalties for an illegal snap and illegal procedure pushed them back and they took a 3-0 lead on Aaron Haire’s 37-yard field goal.
South Carolina settled down after that shaky start — and looked ready to give Spurrier a Florida-style blowout.
Pepper went 19 yards to the end zone with Cleveland McCoy’s interception to put the Gamecocks ahead 7-3.
Ryan Succop added a 40-yard field goal and Mitchell hit Kenny McKinley with a 12-yard touchdown pass on the Gamecocks next two series to increase the lead to 17-3.
Soon enough, though, South Carolina reverted to the “average stiffs” Spurrier spoke of two weeks ago in the opener with Louisiana-Lafayette.
The defense, though, was again above average. It didn’t give up a touchdown at Georgia in South Carolina’s 16-12 win a week ago and did not yield this time, either.
The closest South Carolina State got after its opening drive came in the third quarter after driving to the Gamecock 12, but Darian Stewart recovered Jonathan Woods’ fumble to end the threat.