South Carolina threw its best punches at its worst losing streak but remains 0-for-Auburn.
The Gamecocks gained 535 yards and converted 5-of-6 fourth downs but couldn’t outscore the fifth-ranked Tigers in a 42-35 loss. South Carolina (4-4 overall, 2-4 SEC) fell to 1-10-1 overall and 0-6 under head coach Steve Spurrier against Auburn. The Gamecocks have never won in Auburn and haven't beaten the Tigers anywhere since 1933.
A Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd of 87,451 watched the home team improve to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the SEC but not without getting a few gray hairs out of the deal.
“When you’re a kid playing NCAA on the video game, this is what you think of,” said South Carolina senior quarterback Dylan Thompson, who had a career-high 402 passing yards and five touchdowns on his birthday but blamed the loss on his two red zone interceptions.
The game definitely had a video game feel as Spurrier and Tigers head coach Gus Malzhan slugged it out for 60 minutes, with Malzahn working the body for 395 rushing yards and Spurrier throwing haymakers for 416 passing yards.
Along with converting more fourth downs than half the teams in the country had converted this season coming into the week, South Carolina threw a pass to Thompson off a reverse for 14 yards, used two players (Pharoh Cooper and Mike Davis) in the Wildcat quarterback position, allowed Cooper to throw his first two passes of the season and recovered an onside kick in the third quarter.
“I'm really proud of so many of the guys,” Spurrier said. “We had a lot of the same guys struggle, as we all know. We weren't good enough as a team. We knew we had to try to stay on the field, and we almost did it, but we didn't quite do it.”
The Gamecocks finished with 535 yards, including 127 receiving yards from Cooper and 173 all-purpose yards from Davis. South Carolina had life until Thompson’s Hail Mary from the Tigers’ 41-yard line was intercepted in the end zone as time expired. The game was tied five times before Auburn scored the game’s final points on a 9-yard run by quarterback Nick Marshall with 11:22 left in the game.
“It was almost a fun game, it really was, almost a fun game,” Spurrier said. “I told one of those guys in there, ‘If Jerell Adams catches that Hail Mary, and we make a two-point conversion, it would have probably been one of the greatest wins I've ever had in my life. If it had worked out, but it didn't.”
It didn’t because South Carolina’s struggling defense continued to struggle. After punting on its first drive, Auburn scored touchdowns the next six times its offense had the ball, finishing with 551 yards. Marshall had 139 passing yards, 89 rushing yards and one catch for 17 yards. Tigers tailback Cameron Artis-Payne had 167 yards on 25 carries.
“We definitely feel like we are letting the offense down,” linebacker Skai Moore said. “They are putting up a whole lot of numbers, a lot of points. We definitely should have come out with a win tonight.”
Auburn’s touchdown drives covered 92, 93, 75, 88, 75 and 80 yards.
“I thought we’d have some trouble, but I didn’t think we’d have as much as we did,” defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward. “They exposed us every way you can.”
South Carolina has now lost three consecutive SEC games for the first time since the final three conference games of the 2009 season. The Gamecocks play Tennessee on Saturday in Williams-Brice Stadium.
“We lost fair and square,” Davis said. “Offensively, we did a great job. It’s a tough one. I felt like we could have pulled it out. I think we can move the ball as well as anybody in the country. It’s difficult a little bit, but I will continue to make sure everybody on this team is good and everybody’s head is upright and nobody is down on themselves.”
USC: Roland 32 pass from Thompson (Fry kick), 12:34.
Aub: Fulse 3 pass from Marshall (Carlson kick), 1:33.
USC: P.Cooper 16 pass from Thompson (Fry kick), 12:14.
Aub: Artis-Payne 2 run (Carlson kick), 8:19.
USC: Davis 27 pass from Thompson (Fry kick), 5:05.
Aub: Marshall 37 run (Carlson kick), 2:35.
Aub_Marshall 4 run (Carlson kick), 9:30.
USC: P.Cooper 51 pass from Thompson (Fry kick), 7:40.
Aub: Louis 75 run (Carlson kick), 7:29.
USC: Jones 10 pass from Thompson (Fry kick), 2:20.
Aub: Marshall 9 run (Carlson kick), 11:22.
|Time of Possession||33:31||26:29|
South Carolina, Davis 21-88, Wilds 7-26, P.Cooper 2-10, Thompson 2-(minus 2), Carson 1-(minus 3). Auburn, Artis-Payne 25-167, Louis 3-102, Marshall 10-89, Thomas 8-34, Grant 1-3.
South Carolina, Thompson 29-50-3-402, P.Cooper 1-2-0-14, Team 0-1-0-0. Auburn, Marshall 12-14-0-139, Wallace 1-1-0-17.
South Carolina, P.Cooper 7-127, Davis 6-85, Roland 4-75, Jones 4-43, Adams 3-42, Thompson 1-14, Brent 1-11, Byrd 1-11, Carson 1-5, Jeffery 1-4, Wilds 1-(minus 1). Auburn, Bray 4-29, D.Williams 3-34, Fulse 2-27, Grant 1-28, Marshall 1-17, Coates 1-14, Louis 1-7.