No. 12 Gamecocks rally to edge UCF

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 28, 2013
Mike Davis rushed 26 times for 167 yards and three touchdowns as No. 12 South Carolina overcame an injury to its starting quarterback, four turnovers and a 10-0 halftime deficit to beat UCF 28-25 on Saturday. Davis picked up the slack for a Gamecocks' offense that played the final three quarters without starting QB Connor Shaw. He left the game with a sprained right shoulder following a hard tackle during South Carolina's first offensive series of the contest. The Knights were sharp early, but failed to convert all but one of the Gamecocks' miscues into points. UCF rallied late, but had four turnovers of its own, two of which set up South Carolina scores. Knights' quarterback Blake Bortles threw for 358 yards and two touchdown passes, but had two interceptions and a fumble. Shaw's injury occurred when he was running on a scramble and was dragged down by UCF linebacker Terrance Plummer. Shaw got up holding the shoulder and was taken to the locker room. He returned to the sideline wearing a sling and ice pack. South Carolina (3-1) also lost second-string tailback Brandon Wilds in the third quarter with a left elbow strain, but Davis remained steady as the primary ball carrier. Shaw's replacement at quarterback, junior Dylan Thompson, completed some early throws, but had several potential big-play passes dropped by receivers. He finished the game 15 of 32 for 261 yards and an interception. But both Thompson and the Gamecocks' offense settled down in the third quarter, relying on their rushing attack to take control of the game. UCF (3-1), playing in front of its first sellout crowd since 2011, kept competing. The Knights closed to within 28-18 with 10:13 to play in the game on Bortles' 73-yard touchdown pass to Rannell Hall and subsequent 2-point conversion. South Carolina punted on its ensuing possession, but a UCF drive that started inside the Gamecocks 40 ended with Bortles' second interception of the day. But the Gamecocks couldn't seal the victory. With less than four minutes to play, the Knights fell on a fumble inside their own 5 and struck quickly with a 3-play, 95-yard drive capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass from Bortles to Hall. South Carolina recovered the ensuing onside kick and was able to run out the clock. The Gamecocks took their first lead, 14-10, on 3-yard run by Thompson after UCF had failed to capitalize on South Carolina's third turnover of the game. The Knights had South Carolina pinned on its own 3, but the Gamecocks were able to open up the field with a 28-yard pass play on third down. The 97-yard drive was South Carolina's longest this season. That series came after the Gamecocks took the first possession of the second half and used four straight carries by Davis -- the final one a 53-yard scamper -- to trim the Knights' advantage to 10-7. UCF had all the early momentum, leading 10-0 at halftime, the first time the Gamecocks had been shut out in a half since 2010. South Carolina had been a fast starter this season, entering the game having scored 72 of its 92 points in the opening 30 minutes in its first three games. The Knights mostly had their way on both sides of the ball early, and dialed up more blitzes on the Gamecocks offense with Shaw out. But they also missed on a handful of opportunities that would have stretched out their lead. After two drives that ended in punts, they settled for a 27-yard field goal following a 13-play, 80-yard methodical march down the field. South Carolina was moving the ball on its next series before after the offense stalled. UCF partially blocked a punt and Knights lineman E.J. Dunston returned it to the Gamecocks' 36. That UCF drive ended just three plays later, though, when Bortles was intercepted trying to find Breshad Perriman over the middle. UCF's best offensive possession was on the opening drive of the game. The Knights efficiently marched 75 yards down the field in just 10 plays. The drive, which saw Bortles complete 5 of 6 passes and set up a first-and-goal with a 19-yard yard run, end with a 1-yard touchdown by Storm Johnson. Other than the interception, Bortles was mostly unfazed by South Carolina's pressure early on. He was sacked once, bu the Knights were 5 for 9 on third down.
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