USC beats Akron in rainy, messy makeup game

The Beaufort Gazette (Sunday) - - Sports - BY JEF­FREY COLLINS

Deebo Sa­muel fig­ured out an­other way to score a touch­down as he wrapped up his in­jury-cursed ca­reer at South Carolina in a rainy, messy makeup game.

Sa­muel re­cov­ered a bad snap on a punt in the end zone and caught two touch­down passes as the Game­cocks ( 7-5) beat Akron 28-3 on Satur­day.

South Carolina was play­ing a low-stakes game on a wet, cold De­cem­ber af­ter­noon to make up for one can­celed by Hur­ri­cane Florence against the Zips (4-8), whose opener at Ne­braska was can­celled by thun­der­storms.

It was sloppy. South Carolina had four turnovers – two of them red zone in­ter­cep­tions by Jake Bent­ley – and Akron had six fum­bles, los­ing three of them. In 17 sec­ond-half drives, 10 ended in punts, four ended on downs, two ended in lost fum­bles and the last one ended

at the fi­nal gun.

“We didn’t play well in the sec­ond half,” Bent­ley said. “I’m dis­ap­pointed.”

Bent­ley was 14 of 27 for 199 yards and three touch­downs. Mon Den­son ran 17 times for 110 yards and Bryan Ed­wards caught five passes for 109 yards and a TD for South Carolina.

Sa­muel put this game away on his own. His fum­ble re­cov­ery on a high snap on an Akron punt put the Game­cocks up 21-3 and his 5-yard TD catch with 1:33 to go in the sec­ond quar­ter put South Carolina ahead 28-3. Sa­muel has 16 TDs re­ceiv­ing, seven rush­ing, four on kick re­turns and one on a fum­ble re­cov­ery in his ca­reer. He also has thrown two passes in col­lege – both for touch­downs

“I just go out there and do what they ask me to do,” the se­nior said.

Sa­muel missed games his fresh­man year with ham­string prob­lems and broke his leg in his third game of 2017 af­ter scor­ing six touch­downs.

“When he’s been on the field, he’s been as elec­tric player as you will see in col­lege foot­ball,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said.

When the Game­cocks and Zips orig­i­nally agreed to play this one Nov. 2, there was a good chance both teams would be play­ing for bowl el­i­gi­bil­ity. But South Carolina pulled off a South­east­ern Con­fer­ence win over Ole Miss and Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship Sub­di­vi­sion Chatta-

nooga to get to six wins and Akron lost its last three to stay stuck at four vic­to­ries.

The an­nounced at­ten­dance was 53,420 peo­ple – the ac­tual crowd was much smaller – and it was the low­est at­ten­dance for a South Carolina game since 52,400 were counted in Oc­to­ber 1991 when Louisiana Tech came to town.

“I ap­pre­ci­ate the fans who did come,” Bent­ley said. “We could def­i­nitely hear them.”

Kato Nel­son was 19 for 39 for 178 yards. Kwad Smith caught six passes for 69 yards for the Zips.

PHO­TOS BY SEAN RAYFORD AP

South Carolina run­ning back Mon Den­son runs against Akron line­man R.J. Kelly dur­ing the first half Satur­day.

South Carolina wide re­ceiver Deebo Sa­muel cel­e­brates his third touch­down dur­ing the first half against Akron.

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