Malcolm Long has had his share of success at Williams-Brice Stadium, twice hoisting the Class 4A state championship trophy as the quarterback for Gaffney High School.
But with South Carolina State 5 yards from the USC end zone, a place that had eluded the Bulldogs in their four prior meetings with FBS teams, even the 235-pound Long was shocked after being charged to chase down that feat, which he did.
"I don't know what possessed him (coach Buddy Pough) to call that for me, but he did," said Long, who also rushed for 1-yard score to cap the scoring in the Bulldogs' 38-14 loss. "I'm not a speedy guy, but I have a lot of power behind me, where I can push for 10, maybe 15 yards."
And the Bulldogs gave the Gamecocks more than a playful shove during a closely contested first half.
Much of that had to do with Long's pocket presence and his ability to avoid the pass rush.
On four occasions, the junior escaped potential sacks, converting three consecutive third downs on a 75-yard scoring drive that cut USC's lead to 10-7.
"I was just taking what the defense was giving me," Long said. "I was feeling good on that drive, and we were clicking as an offense."
With the game decided, Long directed another scoring drive that covered 69 yards.
Long finished 12-for-22 for 138 yards.
"I think (Long) was good," Pough said. I thought he had some (good) plays, thought he had some bad plays. I'll tell you what ... (South Carolina) didn't have a sack, and that's big in our thought process because we were able to hold up under the pressure of what they do."
Indeed, Pough didn't shun the moral victories he and his team earned. And while Long is no fan of defeat, he kept the big picture in mind.
"It don't count against our conference record, and that's what our main goal is (to defend their MEAC championship), so we can take something from this," Long said. "But everybody hates losing. I hate losing myself, so it's still very tough."