Perkins, Cava­liers dom­i­nate Game­cocks in bowl vic­tory

The Island Packet (Sunday) - - Sports - BY STEVE REED

Shortly af­ter win­ning the Belk Bowl and earn­ing Vir­ginia its first bowl vic­tory since 2005, quar­ter­back Bryce Perkins raised the bar.

“This is the first step toward mak­ing big strides,” Perkins said. “Next year we want the Coastal Divi­sion – and the ACC cham­pi­onship.”

That would mean knock­ing off peren­nial ACC power Clem­son, which has won four straight con­fer­ence ti­tles.

For now though, the Cava­liers (8-5) will have to set­tle for sa­vor­ing an im­pres­sive 28-0 win over South Carolina in the Belk Bowl, a win that snapped the long­est bowl drought in the ACC.

Perkins threw three touch­down passes to Olamide Zac­cheaus, the game’s Most Out­stand­ing Player, and Vir­ginia’s 14th-ranked pass de­fense dom­i­nated a South Carolina team that had av­er­aged more than 38 points over its pre­vi­ous five games.

Perkins com­pleted 22 of 31 passes for 208 yards and ran for 81 yards. Zac­cheaus had 12 catches for 100 yards and Jor­dan El­lis ran for 106 yards and a touch­down as Vir­ginia held more than a 24-minute edge in time of pos­ses­sion.

Perkins said he felt chem­istry with Zac­cheaus the first day he trans­ferred in last year from Ari­zona Western Com­mu­nity Col­lege – and his fa­vorite tar­get agreed.

“The big­gest thing with me and Bryce is we get along so well off the field – and that just car­ries over,” Zac­cheaus said. “Even when I might not make a play or he might not make a play, it’s like, ‘Who wants it on the next play?’ We’re the same that way.”

Vir­ginia’s de­fense was re­lent­less.

It put the clamps on quar­ter­back Jake Bent­ley, who had thrown for 16 touch­downs over the pre­vi­ous five games, in­clud­ing a 510-yard, five-TD per­for­mance against Clem­son ear­lier this month. Bent­ley was lim­ited to 218 yards on 17of-39 pass­ing and was in­ter­cepted twice.

South Carolina was 2 of 13 on third down con­ver­sions and 2 of 5 on fourth downs.

The Game­cocks clearly weren’t the same play­ing with­out wide re­ceiver Deebo Sa­muel, who by­passed the bowl game to be­gin pre­par­ing for the NFL draft.

Coach Will Muschamp said he was “dis­ap­pointed” in the team’s per­for­mance, adding “we didn’t put on a good show and that’s on me.”

Bent­ley said he didn’t play well at all.

“The in­ter­cep­tions espe­cially and then not ex­e­cut­ing in the red zone is a tough thing to swal­low,” said Bent­ley, who added that he hasn’t made a de­ci­sion on whether he’ll en­ter the NFL draft.

The Game­cocks were shut out for the first time since 2006, when they lost 18-0 to Ge­or­gia.

“That is huge,” Vir­ginia safety Joey Blount said. “I don’t know of many teams that have done that in a bowl. That just shows our de­fense is for real.”

THE TAKE­AWAY

South Carolina: The first game of the post-Sa­muel era did not go well. That could be a trou­bling sign for next sea­son for the Game­cocks, who had come into the game as five-point fa­vorites. It would be a lit­tle sur­pris­ing if Bent­ley turns pro, par­tic­u­larly af­ter such a poor per­for­mance.

Vir­ginia: Bronco Men­den­hall’s de­fense lim­ited what the Game­cocks could muster on

of­fense with a se­ries of blitzes and strong cov­er­age in the sec­ondary. Most of that unit will re­turn next sea­son.

PERKINS SNUBBED?

South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said he felt Perkins should have been the game’s MVP be­cause of his abil­ity to “keep plays alive with his feet on third downs” time and time again.

El­lis said hav­ing Perkins on the field is like play­ing a video game.

“You think he’s go­ing to get sacked and he ends up get­ting out it and run­ning for 10 or 15 yards and get­ting a first down,” El­lis said. “It’s just crazy to watch him play. He gets out of trou­ble and can throw the ball down the field. It’s just hard to stop him. He’s go­ing to be even bet­ter next year.”

HALL TO RE­TURN

Vir­ginia de­fen­sive back Bryce Hall an­nounced he is re­turn­ing for his se­nior sea­son af­ter con­tem­plat­ing en­ter­ing the NFL draft.

Hall leads the na­tion with 20 pass breakups dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son. That should bol­ster a sec­ondary that is re­turn­ing most of its play­ers other than Tim Har­ris.

UP NEXT

South Carolina: The Game­cocks re­turn to this sta­dium on Aug. 31, 2019 to face bor­der state ri­val North Carolina.

PHO­TOS BY CHUCK BUR­TON AP

Vir­ginia's Jor­dan Mack sacks South Carolina' quar­ter­back Jake Bent­ley dur­ing the sec­ond half of the Belk Bowl on Sat­ur­day in Char­lotte.

Vir­ginia's Olamide Zac­cheaus runs past South Carolina's R.J. Rod­er­ick for a touch­down dur­ing the sec­ond half Sat­ur­day.

CHUCK BUR­TON AP

South Carolina's Bryan Ed­wards misses a catch in the end zone as Vir­ginia's Juan Thorn­hill de­fends Sat­ur­day.

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