South Carolina traveled to play Auburn on the plains on Saturday and lost 35-27.
Breaking it down…1st Quarter…As always South Carolina received the opening kickoff. After gaining a first down, they had to punt. Auburn took the ball on their first possession and covered 80 yards on 5 plays for a quick touchdown. The Gamecock defense got embarrassed when Cameron Newton rushed 54 yards up the middle for the touchdown. South Carolina’s offense got the ball back at their twenty needing to answer Auburn’s score. They answered by getting first downs on 3 of their next 6 plays and scoring on an Alshon Jeffrey touchdown reception. Auburn got the ball back and started moving it again before Shaq Wilson recovered a fumble to set the Gamecocks up on a short field at the Auburn 44. The Gamecocks took advantage and scored on a 1 yard Marcus Lattimore run. After receiving the ensuing kickoff the Tigers managed just one first down before punting the ball away.
2nd Quarter…South Carolina picked up two first downs on their first drive of the second quarter before two incompletions and a sack stalled the drive. Auburn looked like they were going to move the ball again before Shaq Wilson recovered another fumble. The Gamecocks were again set up in Auburn territorty at the 47. The celebration was dampened, however, when USC missed the extra point to leave the score 20-7. Needing to get some momentum back before the half, Auburn marched 76 yards on 12 plays to cut the lead to 20-14.
3rd Quarter…Auburn received the second half kick off and drove into Gamecock territory but came away empty handed when Wes Byrum’s 52 yard field goal attempt fell short. With an opportunity to seize control of the game, South Carolina ran for a short gain, threw an incomplete pass and gave up a sack to go 3 and out. Auburn then walked the ball 80 yards down the field on 11 plays to take the lead 21-20. South Carolina responded quickly. Stephen Garcia hit Alshon Jeffrey for a 69 yard gain down to the Auburn 6. Two plays later, Garcia threw to Tori Gurley for the touchdown to make the score 27-20. Auburn got the ball back for another long, methodical drive, and they did not disappoint. They moved the ball to the South Carolina 1 and faced 4th down before the quarter ran out.
4th Quarter…On the first play of the quarter, Auburn went over the top to seemingly score, but the play was brought back for a false start. Suburn kicker Wes Byrum then shanked the field goal attempt off of the right upright. South Carolina took over at the twenty hoping to move the ball, rest their defense and maybe get some points. They were unable to do any of the three. Stephen Garcia rushed for 6 yards before fumbling the ball to Auburn. With a short field and some momentum, the Tigers took advantage of the exhausted Gamecock defense to quickly score on 4 plays to take the lead 28-27. On the next possession Stephen Garcia moved the offense out of the 47 yard line before fumbling the ball away again. As expected, Auburn drove the ball easily down for another score to make it 35-27. South Carolina got the ball back with 6:23 left on the clock. Connor Shaw came in at quarterback and moved the offense down to the Auburn 25 before he failed to see linebacker Josh Bynes dropping into his hook zone and threw the interception. The Gameccok defense managed to finally slow the Auburnn attack and force a punt after three plays. Connor Shaw moved the offense to the Auburn 18 before throwing his second interception of the day, this one into double coverage in the end zone to end the game.
Stars of the Game…Alshon Jeffrey…8 receptions for 192 yards, 2 TD…Stephen Garcia…15-21, 235 yards and 3 TDs…Shaq Wilson…7 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries…
What to Take from the Weekend…It’s hard not to be disappointed with this loss. With a two touchdown lead, the Gamecocks should have been able to hold on to win the game. This team doesn’t appear to be as good as some hoped. That being said, Auburn was one of the four toss up games that we identified before the season that would determine the season. (Georgia, Arkansas and Clemson are the others.) USC is now 1-1 in those games, winning a home game and losing a road one. The Gamecocks can still win the East and they haven’t been eliminated from anything except and undefeated season. The key will be for them not to dwell on this loss and bounce back for Alabama.
Or, as Stephen Garcia said when asked what can be taken away from the game. “A loss is a loss, and that’s really all that matters. We’re 3-1 and we had a chance to be 4-0, so you can’t really take anything away from it.”
This and that…USC turned the ball over on their last 4 possessions including every possession of the 4th Quarter…Connor Shaw’s last interception was the first time South Carolina failed to convert a red zone opportunity this year…In 16 trips USC now has 13 TDs, 2 FGs and 1 turnover…Time of Possession SC 28:52 AU 31:08…3rd down conversions SC 4 of 8, AU 7 of 12
Up next…South Carolina has an off week before hosting Alabama on October 9.