Sept. 24, 2016
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- South Carolina (2-2, 1-2 SEC) fell in a close contest at Kentucky (2-2, 1-1 SEC) on Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium.
Kentucky retook the lead with 10:21 to play when Benny Snell capped an 11-play, 65-yard drive with a one-yard score. Snell ran for 50 of the drive's 65 yards on the drive on nine carries.
The Gamecocks had one last chance, getting the ball with 4:23 to go. Freshman quarterback Brandon McIlwain led the Gamecocks to three first downs, but Kentucky buckled down and stopped the drive.
Kentucky finished a drive that took the final third of the first quarter early in the second with Austin McGinnis' 30-yard field goal. Stanley Williams had three passes of over 10 yards as part of the 12-play drive, two coming on third down.
The Gamecocks answered on redshirt freshman A.J. Turner's 12-yard run with 5:44 left in the second quarter, taking a 7-3 advantage. The running back ran it five times on the drive, breaking free on the right side to cap the drive. Sophomore tight end Hayden Hurst set up the score with his 30-yard reception of McIlwain's pass.
The Wildcats started the second half fast, taking the 10-7 lead after Stanley Williams scampered for a 43-yard touchdown. Stephen Johnson completed two passes for first downs on the five-play drive, both to Jeff Badet for 28 and 11 yards, respectively. He also recovered his own fumble on the play before Williams' score.
South Carolina knotted things at 10-10 with seconds left in the third quarter on senior Elliott Fry's 35-yard field goal. McIlwain connected with tight ends Hurst and Jacob August on the drive, the latter hauling in a 29-yard pass to get the Gamecocks deep into Kentucky territory.
Snell's big, bruising running took over the game in the final quarter, helping the Wildcats post 216 rushing yards on the night.
Kentucky almost doubled South Carolina in second-half offense after the teams were nearly even in the first half.
McIlwain went 15-for-30 for 177 yards, leading the Gamecock offense.
Hurst made seven of the Gamecocks' 15 catches for a total of 84 yards.
Chris Moody made nine tackles on the night.
Darius English had three of the Gamecocks' four sacks as part of his seven tackles.
Quoting Head Coach Will Muschamp
"We really lacked execution starting the game, offensively. We struggled and couldn't get anything going in the throwing game. We were bad on third downs for two weeks in a row. Thought we kind of got some things going there in the second quarter and felt good going into halftime. We just never got into sync and defensively we really struggled to play blocks up front and hold the point against people. That's something that's been a recurring theme. We try to load the box with as many guys as we can. We have to get off blocks and make some tackles. We had an opportunity at the goal line to make a tackle and didn't make it. Other things we'll continue to work through. The kids battled hard and fought. It's a seven-point game. Just disappointed with the lack of execution offensively and defensively just not playing blocks. We'll continue to work and continue to improve. We've got a young group. It's frustrating in the passing game because of the lack of continuity. Deebo (Samuel) is a guy that we felt like might be able to go and couldn't go. Randrecous (Davis) has a bad hamstring and didn't make the trip. Chavis Dawkins is playing, Bryan (Edwards) is playing. We're just having a hard time getting anything going in the throwing game. We're lacking a lot of execution and a lot of it has to do with timing."
The Gamecocks return home to start a month of football at Williams-Brice Stadium, facing nationally-ranked Texas A&M at 4 p.m. on Oct. 1. The game will be televised by the SEC Network.
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