The play was spectacular, and one South Carolina Gamecocks football coach Will Muschamp truly did not want Jake Bentley to try to make.
South Carolina was pinned on its own 13 when Bentley rolled out on first down. A free Florida rusher came and got his arms around Bentley’s waist.
The quarterback was in his own end zone, so he tried to sling it.
“I felt getting grabbed,” Bentley said after Saturday’s 28-20 win. “I was in the end zone, so I tried to, honestly, throw it away. It just happened to land in Hayden’s hands.”
The ball looked ripe to be picked off. Instead, it was Hurst’s big mitt reaching out and under it to give the Gamecocks the 19-yard gain.
But Muschamp sounded down when asked about it after the game.
“I wish he wouldn’t have thrown it,” Muschamp said. “You don’t throw the ball up in that situation.”
Hurst finished with 59 yards, plus 11 rushing, after 93 receiving yards yards the week before.
He and Bentley have a strong relationship, and after thanking Hurst for bailing him out of a tight spot, he laid it on in praising his teammate, especially the way he came back to force a fumble and prevent a touchdown after Bentley tossed an interception.
“Kind of epitomizes what this team is about and what we want every guy to be like on our team,” Bentley said of Hurst. “He could have easily just said ‘Oh man,’ and just let him score.
“He’s really unselfish and sprinted all the way back. ... He’s one of the most unselfish guys and best teammates that I’ve had.”
Show those moves
If the DJ is playing something good, why wouldn’t South Carolina’s defense dance a little while they waited for drives to start?
“First of all, it was cold, so we had to move somehow,” defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth said.
The Gamecocks defense showed off a few moves at points throughout Saturday’s win.
Fellow tackle Javon Kinlaw took a little credit for it, citing one other reason.
“I saw the (New York) Jets do it,” Kinlaw said. “So I was like, ‘We’ve got to be on that side of it.’ So every time they turn the song on, I got them boys hype, ready to play.”
After the game, Muschamp thanked the 79,727 fans in attendance for their role.
“Noon kickoff, I’ve been working a lot of places where half the stadium was half-full regardless of your record,” Muschamp said. “That place was packed, ain’t no doubt about it. It was loud.”
Muschamp said wide receiver Shi Smith got poked in the eye and could not focus. He suffered it in the first half and did not return. He had one catch, a 26-yarder to set up a touchdown.
Safety D.J. Smith tried to go, but a lingering hip injury kept him out. Muschamp also noted defensive end Dante Sawyer was limping by game’s end.
▪ Game captains were Hayden Hurst, Skai Moore, Chris Lammons and D.J. Wonnum.
▪ South Carolina lost the toss for only the second time this year.
▪ The Gamecocks piled up 469 yards of total offense, a season high.
▪ Tailback Mon Denson scored the first two touchdowns of his career.
▪ Florida finished just 2-of-15 on third-down conversions. The Gamecocks had been allowing opponents to convert more than 45 percent.