Fry's Career-Long FG Sends Gamecocks to 13-10 Win in Muschamp's Debut
Sept. 1, 2016
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In head coach Will Muschamp’s first game at South Carolina (1-0, 1-0 SEC), the Gamecocks posted the final 13 points to claim a 13-10 road win in Southeastern Conference play at Vanderbilt (0-1, 0-1 SEC) on Thursday night at Vanderbilt Stadium.
After a 16-yard reception by freshman Bryan Edwards from senior Perry Orth and a 17-yard run by freshman A.J. Turner set him up, senior Elliott Fry stepped up and hit a career-long 55-yard field goal to give South Carolina the lead with 35 seconds remaining in the opener.
South Carolina broke onto the scoreboard midway through the third quarter when Fry hit a 48-yard field goal to cut Vandy’s lead to 10-3. Orth connected with sophomore Deebo Samuel for the big play of the drive, as the duo’s pass went for 30 yards to get the Gamecocks into Vanderbilt territory.
The Gamecocks tied the contest with 7:30 to go when Samuel swept around the left end and touched the pylon for the eight-yard scoring run. Orth completed five passes to start the drive and ran for a nine-yard gain, while Turner rushed twice for 25 yards, including the 20-yard scamper to set up Samuel’s score.
Vanderbilt opened the scoring with a 36-yard field goal from Tommy Openshaw after the Commodores took advantage of a muffed punt by the Gamecocks, setting up the 13-yard scoring drive. That lead grew to 10-0 32 seconds into the second quarter when Khari Blasingam punctuated the 13-play, 67-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
The Gamecocks looked like they would draw within one score as they drove inside Vanderbilt’s 20-yard line later in the second quarter. But the Commodores’ Oren Burks forced a fumble after a five-yard SC run, and Charles Wright covered it up to give Vandy back the ball.
With less than four minutes remaining in the game, Vanderbilt drove into Gamecock territory and set up a 45-yard field goal from the middle of the field, but the chance hooked left, giving South Carolina the chance to drive the field and claim the win.
Orth’s steady hand at quarterback led the comeback efforts, as he went 10-for-15 in the second half for 140 yards
South Carolina’s balanced offensive attack led the way, as the Gamecocks recorded 187 passing yards and 121 on the ground, which combined to out-gain the Commodores by 66 yards.
Orth went 11-for-19 overall for 152 yards, and he added eight yards on the ground.
Edwards caught eight passes for 101 yards, leading all players in receiving yards
Turner posted 70 yards in 13 carries in his first career start.
Quoting Head Coach Will Muschamp
“I’m extremely proud of our players. Really a gutsy performance, it didn’t start pretty. We have prepped a situation to stay in the end zone on the opening kickoff. Because of ball security, we went with Deebo [Samuel] in the punt return. It’s the first time he’s done it; we’ll get it straightened out. We had a naked call early in the game, we had a lineman in one of our base calls who was eight yards down the field – it was his first start, so there was a lot of firsts for this football team, but if you want to talk about guts and laying your body out on the barbed wire, and making plays when you had to make plays, and making catches and doing things that good teams do. On the road and against a very good defensive football team, I can’t tell you how proud I am of our staff and our entire strength staff in our preparation for the first game, and how our guys responded in a hostile situation, and it didn’t go well early. I’ll be as honest as I can be: it is one of the things I told our staff, I said, ‘I’m really worried if it doesn’t go well early. How will we respond? I have no idea.’ [The team] responded the way you [are supposed to] respond. We will build on this and there are so many things to correct. Thank goodness we have the weekend to work and we’ll work every minute of it to get prepared and get it right to go to Mississippi State next weekend. It was a great win, so proud of our guys. We got banged around a little in the run game on defense, we got displaced in some gaps, we’ll get that corrected. Just some really gutsy plays offensively and defensively as the game wore on and I’m extremely proud of this football team and I’m proud to be the head coach of South Carolina.”
You said you were confident in Elliott [Fry] up to 52 yards in camp, what made you confident from 55 [yards] tonight?
“We felt in pregame, because the wind was blowing that way, [special teams coach] Coleman Hutzler felt he was good from 38 and in, meaning a 55-yard field goal, so we felt good from that range because of the wind. We did not feel as good going the other way. In pregame, we go through and talk in terms of where Fry feels good and kicking into the scoreboard, because there was more wind there, he felt good from the 32 or 33. Given the situation on 3rd-and-6, I thought they’d call a timeout to save some time at the end of the game, but they didn’t and we were able to milk the time down and got exactly the look we wanted knowing that we would go out there with [Vanderbilt] having one timeout remaining with about 38 to 42 seconds in the game to play. I had total confidence that he was going to hit the thing. [Fry] is really good, he has been a good kicker for a long time. We’re going to have to win some games like this. That is kind of our m.o. right now.”
South Carolina faces its second road SEC test on Sat., Sept. 10 at Mississippi State. Kickoff at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field is set for 7 p.m. EDT, with the game showing either on ESPN or ESPN2.