‘Gut-wrench­ing’: Game­cocks start fast, fall short in Swamp

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - College Football - BY JOSH KEN­DALL jk­[email protected]­tate.com

Will Muschamp's strug­gles at The Swamp con­tin­ued on Satur­day.

South Carolina lost a 17-point sec­ond half lead and fell to No. 19 Florida 35-31 in front of 82,69 fans in Ben Hill Grif­fin Sta­dium, where Muschamp pre­vi­ously served as the Ga­tors head coach.

“When you come on the road in our league and have the op­por­tu­nity we had to­day, it's gut wrench­ing,” Muschamp said. “It's one you'll carry for a while. As much as we put into it, it's go­ing to hurt. It's frus­trat­ing.”

The Game­cocks (5-4 over­all, 4-4 SEC) led 31-14 after Rico Dow­dle scored on a 4-yard run with 4:41 left in the third quar­ter, and South Carolina still led by 18 points with 16 min­utes left in the game, but the Ga­tors scored 21 unan­swered from that point.

“Coach said it best, it hurts,” said quar­ter­back Jake Bent­ley, who threw for 239 yards, two touch­downs and one in­ter­cep­tion. “It's go­ing to hurt for a lit­tle bit be­cause of how hard we pre­pared and the love we have for one an­other on the team. I think our lead­er­ship has got to step up and get our mind set on Chat­tanooga now. There is still stuff to play for. That's for sure.”

Florida ( 7-3, 5-3) rushed for 367 yards and scored four of its five touch­downs on the ground against a Game­cocks de­fense ranked 12th in the SEC against the run. It was the most yards rush­ing al­lowed by the Game­cocks since LSU gained 396 in 2015, Steve Spurrier's fi­nal game as the South Carolina head coach.

For the first three quar­ters, the game be­longed to the Game­cocks who were look­ing to snap an eightgame los­ing streak against ranked teams. Muschamp has now lost eight of his last 10 games as a head coach in The Swamp. His last SEC vic­tory in Gainesville came on Sept. 13, 2014, in a 36-30 over­time win over Ken­tucky.

“It's a hard, tough loss. We had our op­por­tu­nity,” Muschamp said. “Give Florida credit, they made the plays they had to in the end.

The loss means South Carolina, which hasn't beaten a ranked team since Oct. 29, 2016, will fin­ish the sea­son fourth in the SEC East.

3 POINTS Star of the game:

South Carolina se­nior wide re­ceiver Deebo Sa­muel fin­ished with 201 allpur­pose yards, in­clud­ing the longest re­cep­tion of his ca­reer, an 89-yard gain that set up the Game­cocks' fourth touch­down of the game. It was the sev­enth-longest pass­ing play in South Carolina his­tory. Sa­muel also re­cov­ered a Florida punt while play­ing the gun­ner po­si­tion on the punt team.

After South Carolina had stopped Florida on three plays from the 2-yard line, Ga­tors quar­ter­back Feleipe Franks scored on a 1-yard touch­down run on fourth-and-goal for the de­ci­sive score with 4:09 left in the game. It was Florida's first lead of the game.

Play of the game:

South Carolina's first score of the game came on a 2yard pass to se­nior tight end Ja­cob Au­gust. It was the sec­ond touch­down of Au­gust's ca­reer. His first came in 2015 when Steve Spurrier was his head coach.

JOHN RAOUX AP

Florida run­ning back Kadar­ius Toney is pushed out of bounds just short of the goal line by South Carolina de­fen­sive back R.J. Rod­er­ick dur­ing the sec­ond half Satur­day in Gainesville, Fla.

JOHN RAOUX AP

Side judge Kevin Vick­nair, cen­ter, tries to keep USC de­fen­sive line­men Shameik Black­s­hear (91) and Kings­ley Enag­bare (52) aoart from Florida play­ers as Ga­tors line­backer R.J. Ray­mond (45) tires to help keep the peace.

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