On Thursday, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier implored fans to stay in Williams-Brice Stadium until the end of this week’s game.
On Saturday, his team made sure they stayed in their seats by being tied with Football Championship Subdivision opponent Wofford into the fourth quarter.
The No. 12 Gamecocks and Terriers were tied at 7-7 with 12 minutes left, but South Carolina got a short field goal, a fourth-down stop, an 8-yard touchdown pass and a 31-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in a 4:24 span to survive with a 24-7 victory.
“A lot happened within about four plays there,” said Spurrier, who tied Rex Enright as the school’s winningest coach with his 64th win at South Carolina. “This game was about like every time we’ve played Wofford, very close, very close and something good happened for us in the fourth quarter there.”
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The Gamecocks (9-2) seldom have been able to pull away from the Terriers in recent years but haven’t lost to Wofford since 1917.
“You don’t think it went through my mind that they can beat us, and I have to come in here and say it’s the first time they beat us in almost 100 years?” Spurrier said. “It’s a difficult game. I think I would like to trade with Alabama and play the team they played this week, Western Carolina. They are struggling a little bit, and Wofford is a conference champion.”
The Terriers, who shared the Southern Conference title, outgained South Carolina 330-293 and contributed three turnovers to the Gamecocks’ cause. The Terriers completed one pass, and it went for a 71-yard gain, while South Carolina’s Connor Shaw completed 16 of 20 passes for 122 yards.
“I was never really worried that it was going to get ugly,” said senior running back Kenny Miles, who had a career-high 127 yards. “I just felt like we had to keep playing our game and doing what we were doing.”
Miles probably was the only one in the stadium who wasn’t worried. A Williams-Brice crowd of 79,982, most of whom did stay until the end, nervously booed on a handful of occasions.
“These Wofford kids are tough,” Spurrier said. “We knew it. We watched it on tape. We feel fortunate to come out winning. I felt it was going to be a difficult game. Who knows what could have happened? But it’s behind us now.”
Wofford’s Eric Breitenstein became the second player this season to rush for more than 100 yards against South Carolina, gaining 125 yards on 28 carries.
“If we don’t turn it over, then the other side may be a little sad,” Terriers coach Mike Ayers said. “Loved the effort of the kids and the way that they conducted themselves. We didn’t come to collect a check; we came to get a win. It’s tough when you know you are so close and to know that we almost beat Goliath.”
The Gamecocks completed their first perfect home season since 1987 but must now go on the road to face No. 11 Clemson on Saturday at 7 p.m.. South Carolina has beaten the Tigers each of the past three seasons.
“I know both teams will be ready to play,” Miles said of next week’s game. “They don’t like us that much, and we don’t care for them that much. It’s just a rivalry game and rivalry games are big games.”
USC: Miles 2 run (Yates kick), 14:56.
Wofford: Breitenstein 2 run (Redfern kick), :32.
USC: FG Yates 23, 11:57.
USC: Sanders 8 pass from C. Shaw (Yates kick), 8:10.
USC: A. Auguste 31 fumble return (Yates kick), 7:33.
|Time of Possession||30:49||29:11|
Wofford, Breitenstein 28-125, Johnson 10-46, Nocek 3-25, Gay 3-15, Kass 4-13, Lawson 7-13, Harden 3-10, R.Smith 1-6, Weimer 1-6.
South Carolina, Miles 27-127, M.Davis 3-22, C.Shaw 10-18, Ellington 1-4.
Wofford, Lawson 1-2-0-71, Kass 0-1-0-0.
South Carolina, C. Shaw 16-20-1-122, Sanders 0-1-0-0.
Wofford, Ashley 1-71.
South Carolina, Sanders 5-35, Miles 4-27, Ellington 3-22, D..Moore 2-9, M.Davis 1-15, Jones 1-14.