South Carolina survived a shootout Saturday afternoon in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium but just barely.
In a game that featured 1,126 yards of total offense, two 300-yard passers, four 100-yard receivers, two 100-yard rushers, 52 combined first downs and four second-half lead changes, the Gamecocks beat Ole Miss 48-44 in front of 56,798 fans.
“What an offensive football game, up and down the field, both defenses had a hard time stopping anybody,” Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp said.
South Carolina (5-3 overall, 4-3 SEC) won for the first time in school history in a game in which it surrendered more than 600 yards. The Rebels’ 616 yards were the seventh-highest in history against the Gamecocks. Ole Miss had 34 first downs and led 44-34 after Isaiah Woullard scored on a 1-yard run with 14:15 left in the game, but the Rebels gained only 16 yards after that score. South Carolina played more man coverage in the fourth quarter after playing mostly zone in the first three, Muschamp said.
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“You have to keep playing, you have to stay positive and they weren’t stopping us, so let’s just figure out a way to make two or three stops, which we did at the end,” Muschamp said.
The Gamecocks offense had 510 yards and averaged 7.4 yards per play. South Carolina took its final lead when quarterback Jake Bentley scrambled for a 4-yard touchdown with 5:50 remaining. The win was finally secured when the Rebels (5-4, 1-4) turned the ball over on downs at their 48-yard line with 1:12 remaining.
“We had to respond,” Bentley said. “That was the message all day. Nobody panicked. Nobody got rattled. Just an awesome job by the leadership and everyone to stay calm.”
It marked the first time this season South Carolina has won two games in a row, and it evened the all-time series against Ole Miss at eight wins each. The Rebels fell to 5-4 and 1-4.
Star of the game: South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley had 363 passing yards, the most against an SEC opponent in his career. He was 22-of-32 passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions and averaged 16.5 yards per completion. “Gutsy performance,” Muschamp said. “I thought he was outstanding.”
Play of the game: Junior wide receiver Bryan Edwards made a nearly blind, one-handed, 75-yard touchdown catch with 7:41 left in the second quarter. Edwards reached to the side of the Ole Miss defensive back to catch the ball with his right hand and then separated to put the Gamecocks ahead 24-13. “The guy is a really good football player,” Muschamp said. “I see him make a lot of those catches, so it’s not a shock to me.”
Stat of the game: The last 13 games between the Gamecocks and Rebels have been decided by seven points or fewer. South Carolina’s last four games this season have been decided by four points or fewer. The Gamecocks are now 12-4 under Muschamp in games decided by seven points or fewer.
Injury update: The Gamecocks were battered by injuries in the first half. Starting running back Rico Dowdle appeared to suffer a significant left ankle injury and did not return to the field. Starting left tackle Malik Young, reserve defensive end Aaron Sterling, starting safety Jamyest Williams, reserve running back Ty’Son Williams and reserve safety Javon Charleston also left with first half injuries and did not play in the second half. Starting linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams and starting cornerback Keisean Nixon left the field due to injuries in the fourth quarter. “The injury list, I’m not even going to start,” Muschamp said after the game. “I don’t know who’s up, who’s down.”
Deebo breaks free: Deebo Samuel scored his first special teams touchdown of the game by returning the opening kickoff 90 yards for a score. The Rebels attempted to kick the ball short to keep it out of Samuel’s hands, but the ball bounced off the hands of Eric Douglas and back into Samuel’s hands. Samuel now has four career kickoff returns for a touchdown. Two have come on the opening kickoff of the game.
Carrying the load: Junior running back Mon Denson posted a career-high 102 yards. Denson had a career-long 69-yard run in the fourth quarter to set up the 4-yard Jake Bentley touchdown run that put the Gamecocks ahead 48-44 with 5:50 remaining.
Who: South Carolina at Florida
When: TBA, Saturday, Nov. 10
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
SC_Samuel 90 kickoff return (P.White kick), 14:43
MIS_FG Logan 25, 11:15
SC_T.Williams 2 run (P.White kick), 9:12
SC_FG P.White 20, 2:38
MIS_Phillips 9 run (Logan kick), 13:46
MIS_FG Logan 26, 7:52
SC_Edwards 75 pass from Bentley (P.White kick), 7:41
MIS_Ta’amu 17 run (Logan kick), 6:22
SC_FG P.White 23, 2:01
MIS_Phillips 1 run (Logan kick), :10
MIS_FG Logan 31, 11:56
SC_Vann 5 pass from Bentley (P.White kick), 10:05
MIS_Phillips 2 run (Logan kick), 2:50
MIS_Woullard 1 run (Logan kick), 14:15
SC_Turner 3 run (P.White kick), 11:01
SC_Bentley 4 run (P.White kick), 5:50
Time of Possession
RUSHING: South Carolina, Denson 12-102, T.Williams 7-30, Turner 5-17, Bentley 8-8, Dowdle 1-(minus 1), (Team) 4-(minus 9). Mississippi, Phillips 21-141, Ta’amu 21-66, Woullard 6-28, E.Moore 1-6, (Team) 1-(minus 4).
PASSING: South Carolina, Bentley 22-32-0-363. Mississippi, Corral 0-2-0-0, Ta’amu 31-46-0-379.
RECEIVING: South Carolina, Edwards 4-109, T.Williams 3-105, S.Smith 3-82, Samuel 3-17, Vann 3-13, Crosby 2-11, Turner 1-21, August 1-4, Denson 1-1, Dawkins 1-0. Mississippi, E.Moore 11-129, Lodge 7-34, A.Brown 6-115, D.Knox 2-43, Phillips 2-28, Cooley 1-15, Allen 1-9, Sanders 1-6.
MISSED FIELD GOALS: None.