Gamecocks open with blowout victory

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COLUMBIA — Steve Spurrier watched his South Carolina offense plod through three quarters, nearly go 30 minutes without scoring, and give the ball away four times.

As tough as South Carolina’s offense was to watch for much of Thursday night, its defense sparkled for 60 minutes. And if Spurrier’s team is going to surge toward the season its fans crave – the offensive-minded coach with the .742 career winning percentage has yet to win more than seven games in a season here – this is probably the way it’s going to have to do it.

South Carolina opened Spurrier’s fourth season with a 34-0 home victory over N.C. State, scoring 21 fourth-quarter points and for three quarters relying on a defense that returned 10 starters and dominated a one-dimensional opponent picked by virtually everyone to finish last in its ACC division.

The Gamecocks overcame four interceptions in quarterback Tommy Beecher’s first start with a smothering defensive effort that knocked out N.C. State’s starting quarterback and held the Wolfpack to 138 total yards (49 passing).

Chris Smelley, who started seven games in 2007, led the Gamecocks on three touchdown drives after Beecher left the game late in the third quarter for what was described as a head injury. He completed all five of his passes for 92 yards.

Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425

or matt.middleton@augustachronicle.com.


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