USC out of gas

The State (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY JOSH KEN­DALL jk­[email protected]­tate.com

Will Muschamp’s third sea­son at South Carolina ended with a thud in the Belk Bowl on Satur­day.

The Game­cocks fell 28-0 to Vir­ginia in front of a crowd of 48,263 in Bank of Amer­ica Sta­dium. It was the first time South Carolina has been shut out since los­ing 18-0 to Ge­or­gia in 2006.

“Dis­ap­pointed with the per­for­mance,” Muschamp said. “I ap­pre­ci­ate our fan base. We didn’t put on a good per­for­mance, and that’s on me. I apol­o­gize to them.”

South Carolina (7-6) had been 3-0 all-time in Bank of Amer­ica, home to the NFL’S Carolina Panthers. Any hope of im­prov­ing that record to 4-0 ended early as Vir­ginia (8-5) led 14-0 at half­time and 21-0 mid­way through the third quar­ter.

“Coach al­ways says bowl games are like who wants it most, who wants to come out and have the most fun and play ball,” South Carolina se­nior tight end K.C. Crosby said. “They came out with more in­ten­sity than we did and jumped on us real quick.”

The Game­cocks will re­turn to the sta­dium for their next game, the Aug. 31, 2019, sea­son-opener against North Carolina. They might not want to af­ter how poorly Satur­day went. South Carolina’s of­fense had a sea­son­low in to­tal yards (261), rush­ing yards (43) and time of pos­ses­sion (17:25).

“When you get in a 21-0

game, and they start dial­ing up a bunch of ex­otic pres­sures, it be­comes a dif­fer­ent game,” Muschamp said. “I’m not go­ing to put that on the of­fen­sive line. It’s a cir­cum­stance of the game.”

South Carolina’s in­juryrav­aged de­fense gave up 413 yards to the Cava­liers, most of it to ju­nior quar­ter­back Bryce Perkins.

“He kept drives alive with his legs,” Muschamp said. “Right off the top of my head I can think of six. His legs were the dif­fer­ence in the game. You have to con­dense the pocket and make him play quar­ter­back and we didn’t do that well enough.”

THREE POINTS

Star of the game: Perkins, who set Vir­ginia’s sin­gle-sea­son record for to­tal yardage and touch­downs this sea­son, con­tin­ued his im­pres­sive dou­ble duty, throw­ing for 208 yards and three touch­downs and rush­ing for an­other 81 yards.

Play of the game :On the fi­nal play of the first half, South Carolina opted to at­tempt a Hail Mary pass with six sec­onds re­main­ing rather than at­tempt a 52-yard field goal. Quar­ter­back Jake Bent­ley was sacked, stuff­ing any chance of mo­men­tum the Game­cocks had go­ing into the break. Place-kicker Parker White had missed a 45-yarder ear­lier in the game.

Stat of the game: Vir­ginia was 11-of-17 on third down. South Carolina was 2-of-13.

OB­SER­VA­TIONS

Rid­dle me this: Un­til Satur­day, sopho­more line­backer Spencer Ea­son­rid­dle was known mostly for be­ing named to the SEC’S com­mu­nity ser­vice team this year. That changed when he be­came the Game­cocks’ pri­mary strong­side line­backer against Vir­ginia. Ea­son­rid­dle, a Raleigh, N.C., na­tive who walked on in 2016, was thrust into ac­tion with fresh­man Rosendo Louis still slowed by a shoul­der in­jury. He fin­ished with a ca­reer-high four tack­les.

Youth move­ment: South Carolina started five true fresh­men on Satur­day, in­clud­ing cen­ter Hank Manos of Chapin, who made the first start of his col­le­giate ca­reer. Dy­lan Won­num started at right tackle, and de­fen­sive backs Is­rael Mukuamu, Jaycee Horn and R.J. Rod­er­ick started on de­fense. At some points of the se­cond half, the Game­cocks had six true fresh­men on the field on de­fense.

Slow starts: In three bowl games un­der Muschamp, the Game­cocks have been outscored 52-17 in the first half. Vir­ginia led 14-0 at half­time on Satur­day thanks in large part to con­trol­ling the ball for 20:19 of the first half. The Cava­liers had an 8:52 touch­down drive in the se­cond quar­ter, the longest sur­ren­dered by South Carolina this sea­son.

TIM DOMINICK tdo­[email protected]­tate.com

Vir­ginia cor­ner­back Tim Har­ris, right, pulls down South Carolina quar­ter­back Jake Bent­ley dur­ing the first half of the Belk Bowl in Char­lotte on Satur­day.

TIM DOMINICK tdo­[email protected]­tate.com

Vir­ginia quar­ter­back Bryce Perkins (3) tries to get around South Carolina’s in­jury-rav­aged de­fense, which gave up 413 yards to the Cava­liers, most of it to Perkins.

GAVIN MCIN­TYRE gm­cin­[email protected]­tate.com

South Carolina run­ning back Rico Dow­dle drops a pass dur­ing the Belk Bowl against Vir­ginia at Bank of Amer­ica Sta­dium on Satur­day in Char­lotte.

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