COLUMBIA — South Carolina’s home winning streak is intact.
So are the Gamecocks’ chances to win the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division.
Elliott Fry kicked four field goals and the defense held Florida scoreless in the second half as No. 11 South Carolina defeated the Gators 19-14 Saturday night.
Thanks to Auburn’s stunning win against Georgia earlier in the day, the Gamecocks can still reach Atlanta and the SEC title game if Missouri loses one of its two remaining conference games. South Carolina (8-2, 6-2 SEC) holds the tiebreaker against Missouri (5-1 SEC) thanks to its head-to-head win last month.
“Somehow another it worked out again,” said South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who beat his alma mater for the fourth time in nine tries. “We had trouble scoring again, but the defense was really sensational the second half.”
South Carolina entered the game as a double-digit favorite over Florida, but got more of a battle from the banged-up Gators (4-6, 3-5 SEC) than it expected.
With the victory, South Carolina set a new school record with its 16th consecutive win at Williams-Brice Stadium.
The Gamecocks hold the nation’s longest home winning streak, and the victory broke a tie with the 1978-80 team that had won 15 in a row.
“We kept ourselves alive,” said South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw, who matched the school record with his 24th win as a starter. “You can’t count us out at Williams-Brice.”
Florida led 14-6 at the half thanks to a pair of Kelvin Taylor touchdown runs and a stout defense.
After Fry’s 25-yard field goal put the Gamecocks ahead 3-0, Taylor found the end zone on a 20-yard run.
Fry cut into the deficit with a career-best 45-yard field goal, but Taylor responded with a 29-yard run.
South Carolina responded to start the third quarter by forcing Florida three-and-out and then scored on Shaw’s 32-yard touchdown pass to Bruce Ellington on fourth and 3.
Another defensive stand was negated by a roughing the passer penalty, but Florida’s drive inside the 10 ended with a missed field goal.
In the fourth quarter, Florida pinned South Carolina at its 10 and then the Gamecocks were called for a 5-yard penalty. But backup tailback Shon Carson ripped off a 58-yard gain to get the Gamecocks out of the hole, and Rory Anderson made a big catch on third and 9 that reached the 2.
But the Gamecocks could not get in the end zone, and settled for a 22-yard field goal by Fry to take the lead, 16-14, with 6:43 to play.
Fry added a 43-yard field goal after Florida attempted a fake punt to put the Gamecocks ahead 19-14.
Jimmy Legree ended the Gators’ hopes with an interception with 1:22 to play.
Now South Carolina will have to wait and see if they will reach Atlanta.
“We’ll just watch what Missouri does from afar and not worry about it too much,” Spurrier said.