Originally created 09/17/06

Gamecocks avoid upset



COLUMBIA - This wasn't the South Carolina offense Steve Spurrier expected. And it certainly wasn't the Gamecocks' defense that had showed up so far this year.

South Carolina's struggles on offense continued, despite three rushing touchdowns from Cory Boyd that saved the Gamecocks (2-1) from an embarrassing defeat to Division I-AA Wofford with a 27-20 victory Saturday night.

South Carolina's defenders had given up 18 points all year.

"I'm not going to get mad about it," Spurrier said. "We won. Could've been worse, we could've lost."

The Terriers (1-2) almost made that happen.

All of Boyd's scores came in the first half when the Gamecocks led 24-10 and looked like they were finally playing the kind of ball Spurrier wanted. Along with Boyd's production, star receiver Sidney Rice had 110 yards receiving in the half and new quarterback Syvelle Newton looked in control in his first start under center since 2004. Newton replaced the suspended Blake Mitchell in the starting lineup.

But Wofford clamped down in the second half and turned the Gamecocks' lackadaisical play against them. Justin Franklin's fourth-quarter interception led to Nick Robinson's 28-yard field goal that cut things to 27-13. Then the Terriers rushed punter Ryan Succop, forcing him to throw the ball away to avoid a safety or worse.

It took one play to stun everyone left at Williams-Brice Stadium as Josh Collier's 25-yard touchdown pass to Andy Strickland drew the Terriers to 27-20 with 4:43 left.

Wofford had one last chance, driving to South Carolina's 10 with :29 to go. On fourth-and-5, the Gamecocks' Dakota Walker knocked Collier's pitch attempt into the air and linebacker Cody Wells caught it and saved the game.

"This would have been a storybook ending for a lot of kids, but we came here to compete," Wofford coach Mike Ayers said. "We came here with the mind-set that if we played at the level we are capable of, we could win."

Had Wofford gotten the touchdown, Ayers was certain he'd try for a winning two-point conversion.

Instead, the Terriers fell to 1-9 all time against Division I-A opponents.

The Gamecocks won't hang their heads about their near loss.

"You've always got to feel good about a win," South Carolina cornerback Fred Bennett said.

"They come in all forms. You can't blow out everybody."

Spurrier was furious last week watching South Carolina's offense stumble through an 18-0 loss to Georgia - he called the team stupid in postgame remarks - and changed about everything he could with seven new starters. Spurrier's not expecting more changes this year, sticking by Newton to open next week's game with Florida Atlantic.

Boyd had scoring runs of 10, 1 and 40 yards in the opening half to tie the school record of touchdown runs in a game last accomplished by Dondrial Pinkins against Vanderbilt in 2003.

Newton kept control of things and just as importantly - he got the ball to Rice, the Gamecocks' unquestioned star.

In the second half, though, the Gamecocks' offense looked as moribund as it has most of the year.

Wofford, of the Southern Conference, looked overmatched. But the Terriers grew stronger throughout the game, rushing for 290 yards. Kevious Johnson had 129 yards and a touchdown.