Gamecocks pull away for 24-7 victory over Wofford
COLUMBIA, S.C. Senior running back Kenny Miles rushed for a career-high 127 yards and one touchdown to help lead No. 12/11 South Carolina to a 24-7 victory over Wofford on Senior Day Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium.
With the win, the Gamecocks (9-2) finish the year a perfect 7-0 at home for the first time since 1987. The victory also gives head coach Steve Spurrier his 64th career victory at South Carolina, tying Rex Enright's school record. Wofford drops to 8-3 on the season.
Miles, who was one of 29 seniors honored prior to the game, carried the ball a career-high 27 times, averaging 4.7 yards per touch. It was his fourth career 100-yard rushing game. Miles also pulled down four passes for 27 yards.
South Carolina junior quarterback Connor Shaw completed 16-of-20 passes for 122 yards and had one touchdown and one interception. Junior Ace Sanders caught five of those passes for a team-high 35 yards and a score to lead the receiving corps.
The Gamecock defense gave up 330 yards of offense to the Terriers but came up with several big stops and forced three turnovers to help pull away for the victory. Senior D.J. Swearinger led the way with 12 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Seniors Shaq Wilson and Byron Jerideau tallied 10 tackles apiece, while senior Akeem Auguste recovered a fumble and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown.
The game got off to a slow start as the teams battled through a scoreless first quarter. The Gamecocks eventually struck first with a 13-play, 51-yard scoring drive that ate up more than five minutes of clock. Miles did most of the damage on the drive as he rushed for 43 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown run that that gave South Carolina a 7-0 lead at the 14:56 mark of the second quarter.
The Carolina defense clamped down on the Wofford rushing attack early on as it forced three-and-outs on the Terriers' first three possessions, surrendering just 17 yards.
The Gamecocks seemed to be on the way to extending their lead to 14-0 midway through the second quarter with a drive that went deep into Wofford territory. However, freshman running back Mike Davis fumbled at the end of a 16-yard run at the Terrier 6-yard line, and Wofford's Blake Wylie recovered at the 1.
The Terriers found a groove offensively right before the half and engineered a 12-play, 85-yard scoring drive. Eric Breitenstein rushed for 46 yards on the drive, including a 2-yard touchdown run with 32 seconds left in the half that tied the game at 7-7. Breitenstein finished the contest with 125 yards on 28 carries to lead Wofford.
Wofford gave the Gamecocks a scare on its opening possession of the second half as it drove to the Gamecock 27. However, on first and 10 Swearinger knocked the ball loose from Octavius Harden, and Carolina's Brison Williams recovered to end the threat.
South Carolina took advantage by going on a 15-play, 68-yard scoring drive capped by a 23-yard field goal by senior Adam Yates that gave the Gamecocks a 10-7 advantage with 11:57 left in the fourth quarter.
The defensive unit then came up with a huge fourth down stop for the Gamecocks on the ensuing possession. On fourth and 1 from the Wofford 34, Carolina seniors Devin Taylor and Quin Smith stuffed Breitenstein for no gain, setting the offense up with excellent field position. Five plays later, Shaw connected with Sanders for an 8-yard touchdown pass at the 8:10 mark, giving South Carolina a 17-7 lead.
The Gamecocks then put the game out of reach on the next possession with another big defensive play. Auguste scooped up a forced fumble by Reginald Bowens on Wofford's second play of the drive at the Terrier 31 and returned it for a touchdown to extend South Carolina's lead to 24-7.
South Carolina will close out the regular season next Saturday on the road against rival Clemson. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Clemson, S.C. The contest will be televised nationally on either ESPN or ESPN2.