Run and Shoot: Gamecocks Hold On

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Gamecocks Hold On

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- While a debate might rage in the area as to who the 'Real Carolina' is, South Carolina proved today -- at least on the gridiron -- who the better Carolina is.

But the Gamecocks didn't do it in the convincing fashion that the teams' records or the play in the opening minutes would have indicated. Nor did they do it in the convincing fashion they need to to separate themselves from the muddle of one-loss teams that are currently vying enter the National Championship picture as they held on to a 21-15 victory over North Carolina.

South Carolina (6-1) raced to a 14-0 first-quarter lead and extened that advantage to 21-3 at halftime behind three touchdowns from quarterback Chris Smelley. But the game came down to a pair of last-second Hail Mary's that USC was able to swat away.

"We won somehow," said South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier. "We got very fortunate, we held on.

"They pretty much kicked us in the second half," Spurrier added.

After a stagnant third quarter in which neither team could muster much offense, the Tar Heels (2-5) put a serious scare into the seventh-ranked Gamecocks. North Carolina charged deep into USC territory four times in the quarter, scoring twice in the process.

After the second touchdown, a quarterback keeper by T.J. Yates, drew the Tar Heels within six UNC lined up for an onsides kick. The original indication from the referees was UNC ball, but the ball had rolled out of bounds, handing the ball to USC.

UNC had a last gasp under a minute when Ryan Succop's potential game-icing field goal bonked off the left upright. Yates moved the Tar Heels into range of the end zone, but the rally ran out of time with the two failed Hail Mary's.

"I'm proud of our defensive guys, although we didn't play real smart there at the end," Spurrier said. "It was amazing we still won the game. ... We have a lot to yell and scream at some guys, I don't know if it's going to do any good though, we've been doing that all season."

Player of the Game: Hate to pick a player from the losing side, but redshirt freshman T.J. Yates showed tremendous poise rallying the Tar Heels late. Chris Smelley would seem the logical choice, throwin all three of South Carolina's touchdowns, but he only accumulated 29 passing yards in the second half. Yates, meanwhile, threw two picks in the first half, but had a strong second half despite being without his full artillery. He threw for 285 yards (165 in the final quarter alone) and one touchdown and ran for another. And what if Brandon Tate or Greg LIttle could've reeled in those touchdowns that he laid in so nicely?

Play of the Game: Captain Munnerlyn's 38 yard punt return set the Gamecocks up for their final touchdown right before the end of the first half. Working with a short field, USC scored to take a 21-3 lead into the half. The score, with 15 seconds left in the half, seemingly sucked the life out of the Kenan Stadium crowd for a while and allowed the Gamecocks to keep the Tar Heels at bay. Without that return, the Tar Heels might've had just enough to get over the top.

Next Up: South Carolina returns to SEC action, taking on bottom-feeder Vanderbilt before launching into a brutal four-game stretch to close the season. UNC faces in-state rival and defending ACC champ Wake Forest in Winston-Salem.


The Gamecocks had an atypical second half but give them credit for hanging on.

The "Goats" are up and coming under Butch Davis. Look out for them to become contenders in the ACC shortly.


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