USC Gamecocks Football

App State expected to beat Gamecocks. Victory was sweeter for Mountaineers from SC

Collin Reed wanted to soak in the moment Saturday. He wasn’t alone.

The Appalachian State senior tight end and his teammates tried to take it all in following the Mountaineers’ 20-15 win over South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium.

It was the Sun Belt Conference school’s second win over a Power Five school this season. (App State defeated North Carolina, 34-31 on Sept. 21 in Chapel Hill.) But Saturday’s win carried more weight for Reed, the team’s starting tight end and a former standout at Boiling Springs High School.

“I love it. Absolutely love it. Being so close to home and a team that I didn’t actually get recruited to, and come in here and do what we did as a team solidifies that I am glad they (USC) didn’t look at me,” said Reed, who caught one pass for 22 yards. “We play with a chip on our shoulder every game. We are trying to prove something to the conference and the nation every game. This one was a little more personal for some of us, but it was the same way when we played in Chapel Hill. The guys that necessarily don’t get looks always play with a chip on your shoulder.”

Reed is one of 10 players from South Carolina on the Mountaineers roster, with half of them playing significant time. None of them really got much interest from the home-state Gamecocks during the recruiting process.

“It was an amazing feeling,” said linebacker Nick Hampton who played at Westside High School. “We worked all week for this and we were able to come in and get it done.”

The Mountaineers received $1.2 million combined, including $900,000 from the Gamecocks, to play the two games against the USC and UNC. The two wins showed App State can play with the big boys in the Power Five conferences.

“We had the expectation coming down here to win,” first-year App State coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “We will measure the Power Five stuff at the end of the season. Our goal is to win the Sun Belt Conference championship and a bowl game.”

The Mountaineers played like a team on a mission and wanted to show their national ranking they had a little over a week ago was no fluke. App State got as high as No. 20 in the country before losing to Georgia Southern 24-21 on national TV.

App State’s defensive front negated the Gamecocks’ ground game, limiting USC to 21 yards on 27 carries.

The Mountaineers built a 20-9 lead before holding off a late Gamecocks rally. USC got to the App State 19 with six seconds left, but Ryan Hilinski’s pass was too high for Bryan Edwards.

After the final play, App State players stormed the field before going to celebrate with the more than 5,000 Appalachian State fans who were mostly seated near the south end zone of Williams-Brice Stadium.

App players and some fans took up some pieces of the hedges behind their bench and threw them in the air, while some players went into the stands to celebrate.

Reed went looking for friends and teammates to celebrate with after the game and said Saturday’s win is a moment he won’t forget.

“As a senior, coming home, playing in a game like this and getting a W, you were just trying to soak it all up,” Reed said. “It means a lot to me and to this team to go out and get that W. Just wanted to soak everything up and embrace the people I see and let them know I love them. This team is something special and something we have been building for a long time. We just gotta keep it rolling now.”

Lou Bezjak is the High School Sports Prep Coordinator for The State and Island Packet. He has covered high school sports in South Carolina for 16 years and is a two-time South Carolina Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.