South Carolina hosted Arkansas on a cold Saturday night and lost 41-20.
Breaking it Down…1st Quarter…South Carolina won the toss and elected to receive. After wasting a timeout and taking a shot downfield, the Gamecocks had to punt. Arkansas took over at their 41 and quickly moved the ball downfield. 9 plays and 59 yards later Ryan Mallett had his first touchdown pass of the day to make the score 7-0. South Carolina would answer. The Gamecocks mixed runs and passes well to move the ball down the field. A 29 yard Alshon Jeffrey reception highlighted the drive that ended with a Tori Gurley touchdown reception. Tied at 7, Arkansas received the ensuing kick and picked up two quick first downs. The Gamecock defense stiffened and forced the first Razorback punt of the day. The Gamecocks tok over at their 15 but were unable to move the ball far and punted back with 0:39 left in the first.
2nd Quarter..Arkansas moved the ball into Carolina territory and came away with a field goal and a 10-7 lead. South Carolina seemed to be ready to answer when they moved the ball to the Arkansas 6 for first and goal. Three plays later Spencer Lanning bounced a field goal attempt off the left upright. Momentum seemed to swing to Arkansas with the miss. The Hogs capitalized on a 4 play, 80 yard drive started by a 57 yard pass completion of the first play after the field goal miss. Arkansas took the lead 17-7 and took control of the game. South Carolina picked up a first down but eventually faced 4th and 6 from their 38. The ‘Cocks faked a punt, but failed. Arkansas took over at the 38 and scored 3 plays later. Down 24-7, the Gamecocks took over at their 43 following a personal foul penalty on Arkansas. The Gamecocks drove and appeared to score on an Alshon Jeffrey TD reception, but the play was called back for offensive pass interference, and South Carolina had to settle for the field goal and a 24-10 halftime deficit.
3rd Quarter…Arkansas took the second half kickoff and took over where they left off in the first. They drove to the South Carolina 13 before a deflected Mallett pass was picked off by Devonte Holloman. The Gamecocks had second life, and the fans could sense a chance to get back into the game. Unfortunately, Stephen Garcia was intercepted on third down after scrambling and trying to find Brian Maddox. The Razorbacks scored 5 plays later to effectively put the game away 31-10. South Carolina couldn’t move the ball again and had to punt. Arkansas could move the ball again and made a field goal to push the lead to 34-10. Fans began to file out after the score, and they left in greater numbers when Garcia was again intercepted two plays later.
4th Quarter…Arkansas continued to grind though the Carolina defense, this time for another touchdown. It took the Razorbacks 7 plays to cover 35 yards. Ryan Mallett ran the ball in from one yard out to push the lead to 41-10. Connor Shaw came into the game and led the Gamecocks down the field. Shaw was knocked out of the game on a late hit out of bounds by Jerico Nelson. Seth Strickland came into the game, but couldn’t move the offense any farther as they settled for a field goal to make the score 41-13. Stephon Gilmore sacked Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson and forced a fumble that Byron McKight returned for a touchdown to cut the score to a more respectable 41-20. Arkansas couldn’t run out the clock, but South Carolina didn’t have enough time to cut into the lead.
Stars of the Game…Stephon Gilmore…8 tackles and a sack…Akeem Auguste…7 tackle and a sack…Alshon Jeffrey…7 receptions for 99 yards…
What to Take from the Weekend…This one was bad, really bad. The Gamecocks seemed to be in the game early, but couldn’t find a way to stay in the game. The defense was unable to stop Arkansas at all, and the offense reverted back to late 2007 form. The offensive line was unable to open any running holes against an Arkansas defense that was supposed to be unable to stop the run.
The team is going to have to find a way to re-focus and get back whatever they lost at halftime in Lexington. If they beat Florida next week, then this game will be quickly forgotten. If they don’t, every sportswriter and casual observer in the country will be able to re-use their article about how South Carolina can’t win in November. That’s a lot of pressure on one game.
This and that…South Carolina is now 6-3 overall, 4-3 in conference…The Gamecocks are ranked 22 in the Coaches poll and Ap poll…Arkansas had 443 yards of total offense…South Carolina had 295…3rd downs…SC 5 of 12, Ark 8 of 13…Time of Possession…SC 25:40, Ark 34:20… Garcia is now 4th place in career passing yards in SC history with 5,759 yards…Alshon Jeffrey is now the third receiver in SC history to have 1,000 receiving yards in a season….He has 1,034. The season record is 1,143 by Sidney Rice…
Up next…The SEC East Championship Game against Florida in Gainesville at 7:15 on Saturday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN or ESPN2.