Game­cocks top Akron, wrap up 7th win of year

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

South Carolina got its sev­enth win of the season Satur­day, which was kind of the point of Satur­day.

“We needed this game,” Game­cocks head coach Will Muschamp said. “I ap­pre­ci­ate (ath­let­ics di­rec­tor Ray) Tan­ner mak­ing this hap­pen. We need to get as many snaps as pos­si­ble for young play­ers.”

The Game­cocks ( 7-5) beat Akron 28-3 in a game sched­uled in Novem­ber to re­place the Sept. 15 Mar­shall game, which was can­celed due to Hur­ri­cane Florence. The Zips fell to 4-8. South Carolina an­nounced an at­ten­dance of 53,420 at Wil­liams-Brice Sta­dium al­though it didn’t ap­pear that many fans showed up on a rainy day.

“I want to thank our fans who were here,” Muschamp said. “Pretty mis­er­able day weather wise, but they cer­tainly were loud for us. We ap­pre­ci­ate what they do for us.”

The crowd was the small­est for a South Carolina home game since 1991, when 52,400 watched a 12-12 tie against Louisiana Tech.

By the end of Satur­day’s game, fewer than 10,000 fans re­mained in the sta­dium.

“I wouldn’t say it was tough to get up for the game be­cause we know we have to play the game, but it was kind of weird see­ing that lit­tle bit of a crowd to­day,” said run­ning back Mon Den­son, who had a game-high 110 yards on 17 car­ries.

The fans who left at half­time didn’t miss any­thing.

All the game’s scor­ing was done in the first half and the teams com­bined for nine punts and four turnovers in the sec­ond half.

“Dis­ap­pointed in how we played, but we won and it’s a lot eas­ier to cor­rect mis­takes af­ter a win than af­ter a loss,” said South Carolina quar­ter­back Jake Bent­ley, who was 14-of-27 for 199 yards, three touch­downs and two in­ter­cep­tions.

“Our de­fense bailed us out time and time again.”

South Carolina had 384 yards to Akron’s 260, but the Zips had more first downs (18 to 16). Akron’s three points was the low­est scor­ing out­put by a Game­cocks op­po­nent in Muschamp’s three sea­sons.

3 POINTS

Star of the game: Ju­nior wide re­ceiver Bryan Ed­wards had five catches for 109 yards and a touch­down. It was his third 100-plus yard game of the season. He now has a ca­reer-best 809 yards for the season. “It was just an­other Satur­day on the field,” he said. “We were go­ing out there and hav­ing fun.”

Play of the game: Ed­wards put the Game­cocks ahead 14-3 with a 70-yard touch­down catch with 3:01 left in the first quar­ter. It was the third catch of 70 or more yards for Ed­wards this season, and it gave Bent­ley five passes for 70 or more yards, more than any player in the na­tion this year. Stat of the game: Se­nior wide re­ceiver Deebo Sa­muel had three touch­downs, two re­ceiv­ing touch­downs and a fum­ble re­cov­ery in the end zone on spe­cial teams. Sa­muel now has 13 touch­downs on the season. That ties him with Sid­ney Rice for fourth in school his­tory in sin­gle-season touch­downs.

OB­SER­VA­TIONS

In­jury up­date: Se­nior of­fen­sive line­man Zack Bai­ley, an NFL prospect, broke his left fibula on the fi­nal play of the third quar­ter. Bai­ley, who has started 38 games at South Carolina, was taken off the field on a med­i­cal cart and will not play in the bowl game. “It’s a non-weight bear­ing bone,” Muschamp said. “It’s ob­vi­ously a set­back, but it’s not a cat­a­strophic in­jury in my mind.” Ju­nior Keir Thomas did not dress out for the game due to an an­kle in­jury. Thomas had started the pre­vi­ous 11 games this season. Ju­nior tackle Javon Kin­law is the only de­fen­sive line­man who started the first game of the season to be avail­able for ev­ery game this year. Wide re­ceiver Shi Smith (back spasms) also sat out Satur­day.

Sloppy game: South Carolina turned the ball over four times, two Bent­ley in­ter­cep­tions in the red zone and two fum­bles. The Game­cocks also had a turnover on downs in the fourth quar­ter. The Game­cocks had five to­tal turnovers in six games be­fore Satur­day. Young tal­ent: Fresh­man line­backer Da­mani Sta­ley and fresh­man de­fen­sive tackle Kings­ley Enag­bare both set ca­reer highs in tack­les. Sta­ley had six while Enag­bare had five. Enag­bare also had his first ca­reer sack.

NEXT

Bowl game: South Carolina’s bowl des­ti­na­tion will be an­nounced Sun­day af­ter­noon.

TIM DOMINICK tdo­[email protected]­tate.com

South Carolina wide re­ceiver Bryan Ed­wards picks up a first down dur­ing the first half against Akron on Satur­day at Wil­liams-Brice Sta­dium in Columbia, S.C.

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