Nov. 12, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw rushed for a career-high 88 yards and two touchdowns and completed 6-of-12 passes for 81 yards to lead No. 15 South Carolina to a 17-12 victory over Florida on Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium.
With the win, the Gamecocks improve to 8-2 on the season and 6-2 in the SEC, marking the first time in school history South Carolina has won six SEC games in a season. Carolina also finishes the season with a 5-0 record against SEC Eastern Division opponents for the first time in program history.
“We won a ball game and got six conference wins and beat everyone in the (SEC) East. This was a special one,” South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said.
A 28-yard field goal by Jay Wooten at the 9:14 mark of the fourth quarter gave South Carolina a 17-12 lead, and the Gamecocks turned to their defense to seal the win. South Carolina stopped the final two Florida drives at the Gator 45 and 42-yard lines, respectively, including a Travian Robertson sack of John Brantley that brought the game to an end.
The Gamecocks finished the day with 299 yards of offense while holding Florida (5-5, 3-5) to 261 yards. Freshman running back Brandon Wilds rushed for 120 yards on 29 carries for Carolina to go along with Shaw’s career-high effort on the ground.
Sophomore Ace Sanders had two receptions for 50 yards, and junior wide receiver Alshon Jeffery caught two passes for 17 yards, moving him past former Gamecock Kenny McKinley (2,781) for first place on the school’s all-time receiving yards list with 2,784 yards.
Junior defensive back D.J. Swearinger had a solid defensive effort for the Gamecocks with a team-high nine tackles. Junior Stephon Gilmore added four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble, while freshman Jadeveon Clowney tallied a sack and a forced fumble in the win.
“I know our offense didn’t look real pretty at times,” Spurrier said. “We stayed on the field the whole first half. We did make two or three first downs that last drive. It was a wonderful team victory. Our defense was sensational holding them to 12 points. Our players ought to be commended for this one.”
The Gamecock defense made a statement in the first half, holding the Gators to 84 yards of offense and recovering two fumbles.
The only success Florida had in the first 30 minutes came early in the first quarter with an eight-play, 45-yard scoring drive that resulted in a 21-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis, giving the Gators a 3-0 lead at the 6:01 mark.
The Carolina defense buckled down and allowed just 39 yards the rest of the half, giving the offense the opportunity to put together a pair of scoring drives.
South Carolina turned to Wilds and Shaw to get the job done on the ground on its first scoring drive. Wilds rushed four times for 29 yards on the drive, and Shaw added 17 yards on two carries, including a 10-yard touchdown run to cap the 11-play, 62-yard drive. Wooten drilled the extra point to give the Gamecocks a 7-3 lead with 7:07 left in the half.
Clowney set up South Carolina’s second touchdown of the half by forcing a fumble at the Florida 46 that was recovered by Rodney Paulk. The Gamecocks took advantage by going 46 yards in 11 plays, as Shaw punched it in the end zone from a yard out to give Carolina a 14-3 lead heading into the locker room.
Florida trimmed South Carolina’s lead to 14-6 with a 24-yard field goal by Sturgis with 7:17 left in the third quarter.
The Gators made things interesting early in the fourth quarter, as a 47-yard run by Chris Rainey set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Jacoby Brissett to pull Florida to within 14-12. Florida elected to go for two, but Marty Markett picked off Brissett’s pass attempt to keep the Gamecocks in front with 9:14 remaining.
South Carolina responded after a 30-yard return by Bruce Ellington on the ensuing kickoff set up the Gamecocks at their own 42. Shawconnected with Sanders for a 46-yard pass to the Florida 17. Three plays later, Wooten nailed a 28-yard field goal to push Carolina’s lead to 17-12, and the Gamecock defense shut the Gators down on the next two possessions to preserve the win.
Rainey rushed for a game-high 132 yards on 17 carries for Florida, while Brantley completed 13-of-21 passes for 119 yards.
The Gamecocks return to action on Saturday, November 19 as they host the Citadel. Kickoff is set for noon at Williams-Brice Stadium.