South Carolina became bowl eligible Saturday afternoon with a 37-12 win over South Alabama that was not nearly as stress-free as the final score would suggest.
The Gamecocks (6-5) survived a Sun Belt foe despite a season-worst five turnovers, 53 yards worth of penalty yards and three red zone field goals.
South Carolina put the game away early in the fourth quarter with its longest drive of the season – a 96-yarder that appeared bogged down deep in its own territory efore Dylan Thompson found Pharoh Cooper for a 73-yard gain on third-and-10. Two lays later, Cooper lined up in the Wildcat quarterback formation and threw for a 7-yard score to Thompson, giving the senior his first collegiate touchdown reception on Senior Day at Williams-Brice Stadium and putting the Gamecocks ahead 30-9 with 10:20 left in the game.
On the ensuing possession, Skai Moore picked off the Gamecocks’ fourth pass of the game to set up a David Williams touchdown run that extended the lead to 37-9 with 8:11 left in the game. South Carolina forced a season-high five turnovers on the day as Moore and senior safety Brison Williams each had two interceptions.
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A home crowd of 78,201 watched South Carolina become bowl eligible for the time in Spurrier’s 10 years. Up next is Clemson on Saturday at Memorial Stadium, where the Gamecocks will be looking to extend their school-record, five-game winning streak against the Tigers.
The Jaguars gained 133 yards on back-to-back, 14-play drives to open the game but gained only 140 yards on their next 11 drives.
South Carolina led 17-9 at halftime after a second quarter that included turnovers on six straight possessions, three by each team.
Junior running back Mike Davis, who is considering an early jump to the NFL and participated in Senior Day ceremonies before the game, fumbled on two of his three first half touches, once on a rush and once on a reception.