The hometown boy did well.
Tyler Renew went from selling peanuts at Williams-Brice Stadium while he was in high school at Ben Lippen to running roughshod over South Carolina just three years later. The junior B-Back in The Citadel’s triple option attack ran for a career-high 174 yards and his 56-yard yard scoring run with 6:07 remaining turned out to be the decisive score as the FCS Bulldogs shocked the Gamecocks 23-22 Saturday.
“Right now, it’s kind of surreal. It’s a bunch of mixed up emotions,” Renew said. “I don’t really know what to feel when you pull off something big like this. We went through the week and believed in ourselves. We went and executed today like we have all year. It’s just awesome.”
“Walking into the stadium was an awesome, awesome experience. It’s something I’ll tell my kids about for years and years to come.”
Never miss a local story.
The 5-foot-11, 217-pound bruiser set the tone early against the Gamecocks’ beleaguered defense. In addition to his career rushing total, he scored two of the Bulldogs’ three touchdowns. The Citadel came in as the second-best FCS team rushing by averaging 343.7 yards on the ground. They did nothing to hurt that average by running for 350 yards against the Gamecocks and averaged 5.7 yards per attempt.
“It’s an awesome feeling to come back here,” Renew said. “Columbia is my hometown, so I have a lot of friends and family here. For our team to play so well, it’s great for us and our program.”
Renew and his friends sold peanuts at USC home games when he was in high school, and his best memory was when the Gamecocks knocked off No. 1 Alabama in 2010. That’s been trumped now.
The game-winner came on a checked call at the line of scrimmage by quarterback Dominque Allen. South Carolina changed its defensive front for the third-and-1 play, so Allen checked from an inside veer to outside veer and it worked to perfection.
Allen handed the ball to Renew off the left side and once he broke through the line of scrimmage, he pulled away from the defense on the 56-yard scamper.
“It was a surprise to see that much open space. We had a play called and Dom checked it over,” Renew said. “The offensive line blocked it perfectly and I just ran. Nobody really touched me, so that’s a credit to the offensive line.”
Allen was happy to see his teammate have such a big day in his return to Columbia.
“He’s busted his butt this whole year running hard and doing everything we’ve asked of him,” Allen said. “That big touchdown run at the end was a last minute check. I just believed in him and he made a big play. He never gave up and kept running. For him to be on the stage like this and do what he did, I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Renew earlier scored on a 7-yard scoring run that gave the Bulldogs a 14-3 lead. He carried it eight times, and seven of the final eight plays on the 13-play, 75-yard drive to account for 45 yards on the drive.
The two touchdowns matched a career-high. The Citadel coach Mike Houston said the way Renew played was a testament to his character and epitomizes the team that will be in the FCS playoffs next week.
Renew was a starter last year, then lost the job at the beginning of this season before regaining the starting position down the stretch.
“That’s a kid that started out the year as a backup and fought his way back by working hard and doing things the right way,” Houston said. “To come in here in a stadium where he sold peanuts when he was in high school watching the Gamecocks play to run for 174 yards and two touchdowns and beat them, what a special day for him.”
Renew was eager to get out to his family after his big day.
“I definitely didn’t imagine to have the day that I had,” he said. “That’s a credit to the coaching staff and great gameplan coming in. It’s a special night for me and my family, and I can’t wait to share it with them.”