The University of South Carolina Gamecocks kicked off their season on Saturday in the Belk Kickoff Game in Charlotte, NC against their border rivals to the north, the University of North Carolina Tarheels. The Gamecocks were favored to win the 56th meeting of the teams since the two teams first met in 1903, but the Tar Heels rallied in the fourth quarter to win 24-20.
North Carolina true freshman Sam Howell led his team to the win completing 15 of 24 passes for 245 passing yards, and two touchdowns. The Gamecocks starting quarterback, senior Jake Bentley, only threw 15 of 30 completed passes in his third year as starting quarterback for South Carolina. Bentley also threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter, which ultimately led to his team’s demise.
South Carolina put the first points on the board with a 32-yard field goal by junior starting kicker Parker White, and North Carolina tied the game with a field goal with a little less than six minutes left in the first quarter. Clemson transfer Tavien Feaster scored the first touchdown of the game, with his first as a Gamecock with 3:09 left on the clock in the first quarter.
The Gamecocks led 10-3 going into the second quarter, and each team scored another field goal in the second quarter, with the Gamecocks staying on top at the end of the first half, 13-6.
In the third quarter, North Carolina tried to make a comeback and the Tar Heels were able to put another three points on the board with a 24-yard field goal, but South Carolina was able to stay ahead with a touchdown by Kyle Markway with just over five minutes left in the quarter. The Gamecocks managed to keep the lead, going into the fourth quarter 20-9.
The fourth quarter was battle of the quarterbacks, and Jake Bentley clearly lost that battle throwing two interceptions back to back with only two minutes left in the game. North Carolina’s freshman quarterback, Howell, threw for two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, one at the beginning of the quarter with 14:27 on the clock, and the second one with eight and half minutes left in the game.
South Carolina went from up by 11 points at the end of the third quarter, to losing by four at the end of the game, with blame to go all around. Coach Muschamp stated after the game the offensive and defensive lines both played horrible ball the last quarter of the game and that he and his team looked to improve on their mistakes from the season-opening loss to North Carolina.
The Gamecocks will have the chance to bounce back from this embarrassing loss next Saturday, September 7, when they play their home opener against Charleston Southern University.