Gamecocks overcome errors to beat Florida
COLUMBIA, S.C. — In a season of one dominant team and a bunch of disappointments in the SEC East, resilient South Carolina figured out another way to win, overcoming four turnovers to beat Florida 28- 20 on Saturday and reach heights the Gamecocks have rarely achieved.
South Carolina (7-3, 5-3 Southeastern) can’t win what would have been only been its second SEC East title.
But the Gamecocks will finish with only its eighth winning SEC record in 26 seasons in the league.
Second year coach Will Muschamp has his Gamecocks embracing what he calls a “So What? Now what?” philosophy, and his quarterback Jake Bentley personified it, shaking off three interceptions to throw for 249 yards and run for two touchdowns.
“At the end of the day, we won,” the sophomore said. “It’s better to learn from something with a W.”
A Florida team in disarray with a fired coach and no wins since September couldn’t take advantage of the help. The Gators (3-6, 3-5) will finish with a losing SEC record for only the third time since 1992.
I nterim coach Randy Shannon said he was proud his team kept fighting after a 35- point loss against Georgia led to the firing of Jim McElwain two weeks ago, and Shannon’s debut was a 29-point loss to Missouri. But he understands it still isn’t enough as Florida will miss a bowl game for only the third time in 31 seasons.
“Is this up to the expectations of this program? No. We wanted to win. There are no moral victories,” Shannon said.
A.J. Turner ran 22 times for 136 yards and Mon Denson rushed for the first two touchdowns of his career as South Carolina had its best offensive game of the season with 469 yards. In a common theme this season, the Gamecocks defense also came through. The Gators converted as many fourth downs ( 2 for 2) as third downs (2 for 15). And the defense ended Florida’s last chance when defensive back Jamyest Williams picked off a tipped pass near midfield with just over a minute to go.
“Two years ago, we’re a 3-9 football team. The investment you’ve made to get to this point, I’m damn proud of you,” Muschamp told his team in the locker room after the win.
South Carolina’s A.J. Turner (25) runs away from Florida’s Vosean Joseph during Saturday’s game.
Sean Rayford /