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Snell's 2 TDs Lead Kentucky to 23-13 Win Over Gamecocks

Sept. 16, 2017

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Kentucky 23, South Carolina 13

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Benny Snell Jr. rushed for two touchdowns and Kentucky's defense held off South Carolina to win its fourth straight over the Gamecocks, 23-13, on Saturday night.

Snell, who's status was in doubt earlier in the week due to bruised ribs, rushed for scores of 5 and 1 yard in leading the Wildcats (1-0 Southeastern Conference) to their first 3-0 start since 2010. Two years ago, Kentucky snapped a 22-game SEC road losing streak at South Carolina.

This time, the Wildcats left no doubt about who was the better team in this one.

It did not start that way, though.

South Carolina (2-1, 1-1) electrified a sold-out stadium with a 68-yard TD catch by receiver Deebo Samuel on the opening play, then got an interception and a fumble from the Wildcats' first two drives. But Kentucky's defense did not allow the Gamecocks any more points after that.

Snell and offense took over with two long, first-half scoring drives for a 14-6 lead. Snell ended a 13-play series with his 5-yard touchdown. He capped an 11-play sequence with his second touchdown.

Kentucky made the critical plays when it needed. Facing fourth-and-goal from the Wildcats 1 in the fourth quarter, Gamecock tailback Rico Dowdle was stopped cold by linebacker Jamar Watson and cornerback Derrick Baity.

Then when the Gamecocks closed it to 20-13 on OrTre Smith's 9-yard touchdown grab with 6:26 left, Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson scrambled on third down for a 54-yard run that led to Austin MacGinnis' third field goal with two minutes left that sealed the win.

Snell finished with 102 yards on 32 carries.

Samuel had five catches for 122 yards and his sixth touchdown of the season. But he left the game in the fourth quarter with an injury.

QUOTING COACH MUSCHAMP

"I'm extremely disappointed with that performance. With as good of a night as our fans and our administration set up for us, to go out and play like that, I feel like it's my responsibility. It's extremely disappointing to play the first two ball games pretty clean, and we jump off sides four to five times, we have two short field goal; offensively we can't get anything going, we had a hard time in short yardage, we were unable to convert a one-yard run on two separate occasions; defensively can't get off the field on third down in the first half, we didn't tackle very well for the night. We had an opportunity there at the end to get off the field, and we had a quarterback scramble for 54 yards. I'm extremely disappointed. I hate it for our fans, because they were certainly excited to be there. We had a wonderful environment that they created, and we certainly didn't follow up. We had our opportunities early, and we didn't convert. It's disappointing. Give Kentucky credit for winning the game."

NOTABLE

  • Jake Bentley connected with Deebo Samuel for a 68-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the game from scrimmage. It was the longest career completion by Bentley and the longest career reception by Samuel.
  • Samuel ended the game with five catches for 122 receiving yards. He now has 86 receptions and 1,194 yards in his career, which ranks 24th and 23rd, respectively, on Carolina's all-time charts.
  • Bentley completed 16 straight passes beginning in the 2nd quarter and extending into the 3rd period, a career high and four off of the school record set by Connor Shaw against Missouri on Sept. 22, 2012.
  • Bentley finished with 304 passing yards on the night, the second 300-yard effort of his career.
  • Linebacker T.J. Brunson led Carolina with 10 tackles. It's his second career game of double-digit tackles, and he leads the Gamecocks with 32 stops on the season.
  • Linebacker Skai Moore ended Kentucky's opening drive with an interception. It was his first of the season and the 12th of his Carolina career, which ranks second in program history.
  • Three Gamecocks each made their first reception of the season on Saturday: Randrecous Davis, Chad Terrell and OrTre Smith. For Terrell and Smith, it was their first career catch, while Smith scored his first career touchdown.

GAME CHANGER

South Carolina forced a pair of first-half turnovers, an interception from Skai Moore and a fumble recovery from Jamyest Williams. The Gamecocks did not turn those Kentucky miscues into points as a Jake Bentley interception and a punt ended those USC drives.

KEY STAT

68 -- Jake Bentley hit Deebo Samuel for a 68-yard touchdown on the first offensive play of the game. Samuel ended the game with five receptions for 122 yards but he suffered an injury that will have him out for extended period of time.

UP NEXT

The Gamecocks will host Louisiana Tech, out of Conference USA, at Williams-Brice Stadium next Saturday. Game time is set for 3:30 pm and the game will be televised on SEC Network. Carolina leads the all-time series with the Bulldogs by a 4-0-1 count. The teams tied the 1991 contest, then the Gamecocks won four-straight matchups from 1992-95.
 

 

 

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